Health chief's plan to tackle childhood obesity

PUBLISHED: 16:52 04 June 2007 | UPDATED: 22:51 28 May 2010

AN extended programme of weighing and measuring youngsters in Fenland primary schools is being used to help health chiefs tackle the problems of childhood obesity. Latest figures should be ready by October after the measuring of at least 80 per cent of re

AN extended programme of weighing and measuring youngsters in Fenland primary schools is being used to help health chiefs tackle the problems of childhood obesity.

Latest figures should be ready by October after the measuring of at least 80 per cent of reception and Year Six classes in schools during the 2006/07 academic year.

Current information is not thought to be sufficiently detailed although existing programmes of help do target areas of deprivation including Fenland.

Dr Liz Robin, director of public health for Cambridgeshire Primary Care Trust, says: "Children are becoming increasingly vulnerable to obesity and overweight nationally and internationally. The UK has some of the highest rates of childhood obesity and there has been a significant increase in recent years.

"Overweight and obese children may be more susceptible to social, psychological and physical health problems."

If current trends continue it has been predicted that 17 per cent of boys and 19 per cent of girls aged two-10 years will be obese by 2010, more than one million children.

The PCT will tackle the problem in a variety of ways including attempting to change the behaviour of both children and parents, to treatment for children and families who are obese.

It is already responsible for rolling out the Healthy Start Scheme and for promoting breastfeeding.

The Healthy Start Scheme provides vouchers to low income families with children under the age of four. Vouchers can be exchanged for vitamins, fruit and vegetables as well as milk and formula. Midwives and health visitors are continuing to promote brestfeeding.

Dr Robin said: "Childhood obesity is a significant public health issue with the potential for a generation with a lower life expectancy than their parents, and significant costs to the NHS and economy as a whole.

"It will require significant commitment of staff and resources from the NHS, education and early years providers, but in the longer term should have significant benefits to health and the demand for NHS services.

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