Young are starting to beat bulge

By Ian Dipple Friday 10 January 2014 Updated: 10/01 10:08

HEALTH bosses say they are starting to win the battle against obesity after a fall in the number of ten and 11-year-olds classed as overweight or obese in Worcestershire for the first time.

But there are still almost 3,000 children in Reception and Year 6 across the county that are an unhealthy weight and in Redditch in particular the figures are on the rise.

Since 2006 school children aged four to five and ten to 11-years-old are weighed annually as part of the National Childhood Measurement Programme. Tackling childhood obesity is crucial as evidence shows overweight children tend to go on to become obese adults. Overall obesity is costing the county’s NHS an estimated £80million a year.

Figures released for 2012/13 show 23 per cent of the 5,785 Reception class children measured in Worcestershire were obese or overweight, the lowest level since the programme started. Almost 32 per cent out of 5,096 Year 6 children were classed as overweight or obese, a drop of almost two per cent on the previous 12 months.

In Redditch the picture is less positive where 32.6 per cent - or 273 - ten and 11-year-olds in 2012/13 were measured as obese and overweight, a slight rise on the previous 12 months but down from 36.8 per cent in 2010/11.

In Reception year the number of obese and overweight children rose to 23.1 per cent, some 239 of the 1,036 children measured.

Coun Marcus Hart, responsible for health and well-being on Worcestershire County Council and head of the county’s health and well-being board, said the results suggested the message about healthy eating and exercise for children was starting to have an impact.

“This new data shows recent trends, which would mean 60 per cent of men and 50 per cent of women in the UK will be obese by 2050, can be reversed. We cannot however, underestimate the enormity of this task,” he said.

“The board are committed to enabling people to take responsibility for their own and their family’s weight, to eat healthily and take regular exercise.

“We believe we can make a real difference for the future, and these most recent figures suggest that the tide is starting to turn, in the right direction.”

He added a range of work was taking place across the county to encourage healthy weight including an increase in government funding to improve sport and physical education provision in primary schools, the creation of a new county cycling strategy and more health walks as well as efforts to ensure companies provided a healthy workplace for staff.

Next week is National Obesity Week and members of the health and well-being team will be visiting supermarkets throughout Worcestershire to encourage residents to sign up to making healthy swaps in their lives.

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