Monday, 20 August, 2018

Councils 'need greater tools to tackle childhood obesity'

Obesity warning Councils 'need greater tools to tackle childhood obesity'
Anna Jefferson | 01 June, 2018, 16:27

In reception classes 14,787 children were classed as severely obese, 2.35 per cent of the total.

The number of 10 and 11-year-olds classed as severely obese in the final year of school is almost double that of those in reception, new figures have revealed.

In yesterday's report, the LGA, which represents 370 councils across England and Wales, called on the government to make a U-turn on cuts to public health grants in addition to more reforms to combat obesity in children.

With the United Kingdom displaying the highest levels of obesity in western Europe and one in three children overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school, it's hard to find families unaffected by this issue which urgently needs addressing.

A BMI of more than 40 means adults are severely obese, but in children it is based on reference growth charts for boys and girls.

The Local Government Association, which analysed data from the National Child Measurement Programme, said that severe child obesity rates were "contributing to a multibillion-pound ill-health time bomb".

"This new report reflects some of our deepest concerns about childhood obesity".

"Severe obesity rates vary significantly by area and are highest in children living in the most-deprived towns and cities, and those from BME groups, suggesting a need for the development and evaluation of more targeted interventions".

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A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman defended the Government's programme for tackling childhood obesity as "among the most comprehensive in the world".

The report endorses calls for a 9pm watershed on junk food advertising, saying there is a need to be a ban on brand generated characters or licensed TV and film characters from being used to promote HFSS (high fat, sugar and salt) products on broadcast and non-broadcast media, and the Government must align regulations on non-broadcast media with those for broadcast media.

Dr Max Davie, officer for health promotion for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, agreed with the committee, adding: 'The committee is right, the key to a reduction of obesity is prevention and we must not hang around, action must be taken now'.

Izzi Seccombe, chair of the LGA's Community Wellbeing Board, said: "These new figures on severely obese children, who are in the most critical overweight category, are a further worrying wake-up call for urgent joined-up action".

Obesity can lead to severe health problems and can also shorten a person's lifespan by ten years.

"The UK is already the most obese nation in western Europe, with one in three 10 and 11-year-olds and one in five four and five-year-olds classed as overweight or obese, respectively".

The Commons Health and Social Care Committee also wants more to be done to tackle obesity risks in the first 1,000 days of a child's life, including setting breastfeeding targets.

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