The road to health in Singapore will start early. All pre-school children will have at least one hour of physical activity a day, including time spent in the sun.

They will also be served healthy meals that include fruit. Once a key law is passed, pre-schools will no longer be allowed to offer unhealthy eating options.

These recommendations from the NurtureSG committee to get children and youth to grow up healthy - both physically and mentally - have been accepted by the Health and Education Ministries. Some are already being rolled out.

With obesity rates among children going up and chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension on the rise, the committee was tasked with finding ways to improve children's health. Among the issues that the committee addressed were mental health problems, eating habits, and the lack of sleep and exercise.

Obesity rates among children have risen from 10 per cent in 2010 to 12 per cent in 2015. "So very often you can see young children on their handheld devices," said Dr Lam. "That has also resulted in children not exercising enough and leading a more sedentary lifestyle."

The committee decided to get the fitness ball rolling with pre-schoolers, who will have at least one hour of physical activity every day. All pre-schools must provide healthy meals and a minimum duration of physical activities as part of their licensing requirement.

Schools from primary to junior college levels will be encouraged to lend out sporting equipment, like footballs, so children can have "unstructured play" during recess, after lessons, and even on weekends.

Dr Lam added that more time outdoors for the young might also reduce the high rate of myopia. By the time they finish their studies, seven in 10 children here are myopic.

He also touched on a relatively less-discussed issue. Children here do not sleep enough. Half the teens don't get the recommended eight to 10 hours of sleep while one in three sleeps less than 5-1/2 hours each night, said Dr Lam. This affects their mental abilities, and increases their risk of obesity. Students will be offered tips on the importance of having enough sleep.

Children of all ages will be given the chance to be more involved in physical activities at school, starting in pre-school. Under new rules to be introduced by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA), full-day pre-school programmes must devote at least an hour to physical activity every day.

NurtureSG, a task force set up to help young people adopt healthier habits, also recommended that older children be given more opportunities to get active outside formal curriculum time. For instance, they should be allowed to borrow sports equipment for games after school hours or during recess time.

Schools will also work with parents and alumni groups to organise physical activities on weekends. In addition, the Health Promotion Board is planning a pilot programme to train students at institutes of higher learning to lead activities such as workouts for their peers.

Explaining the rationale for these changes, Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min, who co-chairs the NurtureSG task force, said: "So often you can see young children on their handheld devices... and that has resulted in children not exercising enough and leading a more sedentary lifestyle."

One school that already encourages its pupils to get active is Xinmin Primary, where pupils can borrow sports equipment such as footballs, skipping ropes and hula hoops before school or during recess time. Said Mr Mohamad Azreen Mohamad Kusnin, who is the school's subject head for physical education: "We feel that this sort of unstructured play builds their fundamental skills. "It also gives them extra motivation to lead a healthy lifestyle."