We are pleased to welcome Dr Gregor Starc, an Associate professor in the Faculty of Sport in the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia which will present “SLOfit monitoring of children’s fitness: Outcomes and experiences “at the IFNH lunchtime seminar on Friday 24th September at 13.00-14.00.
Back in 1987 Slovenia started a highly innovative programme where every year all primary and secondary school children have their fitness assessed. This became the SLOfit programme, a national surveillance system for physical and motor development of children and youths. SLOfit has now a very large data set with information on the effects of the project on childhood obesity, overall health and as will developmental psychology. Gregor will tell us about the project including analyses on the relationship between physical fitness and academic achievement and on the tracking of obesity from childhood to young adulthood. He will also cover very recent data on the effects of the COVID lock-downs when schools and sport clubs were closed for children. He has data from immediately after the first and the second lock-downs and he says the effects on childhood obesity are shocking.
SLOfit is a Slovenian school-based national monitoring system of fitness and somatic development, which was introduced in the 1980s. It annually gathers population data of school-going children and youth and provides invaluable tool for teachers’ planning of PE lessons, individualisation and identification of developmental difficulties. Since more than a half of the current Slovenian adult population has available SLOfit data, parents are able to directly compare their own development in childhood and youth with their children’s. This importantly adds to public awareness of importance of physical activity and has resulted in the improvement of physical fitness and in decline of childhood obesity in the last decade, while simultaneously the performance of Slovenian children and youth in international student assessments displayed a similar positive trend. Due to the robustness of the SLOfit system Slovenian schools were able to organise the measurements also immediately after the COVID-19 lockdowns to observe their effects on children’s development. The enormous decline of physical fitness and the unprecedented rise of obesity after the lock-downs shocked the professional and general public, and showed the indispensable role of school PE in children’s development as well as the challenges we will be facing in the pandemic aftermath.