Children obesity rates soar

CHILDREN in this region are getting fatter, according to worrying new figures.Nationally, nearly one in three 10-year-olds and nearly one in four 11-year-olds is overweight or obese.

CHILDREN in this region are getting fatter, according to worrying new figures.

Nationally, nearly one in three 10-year-olds and nearly one in four 11-year-olds is overweight or obese. Locally, a growing number of reception class children are overweight and obese, while more year six children are obese - though fewer are overweight.

And NHS Norfolk is taking on two new members of staff, a breast-feeding and infant nutrition co-ordinator and a childhood obesity co-ordinator. They will start early next year and are intended to tackle the fact that an increasing number of children are already overweight when they start school.

The figures come from the National Child Measurement Programme, in which youngsters are weighed and measured at school. The programme has been running since 2005, but this is only the second time year that national results have been published. It came as researchers from University College London warned that one in three adults in England - almost 13 million men and women - will be obese by 2012.

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In reception class, more Norfolk children are overweight than the national average - 13.7pc compared with 13.1pc across the east of England and 13pc nationally. But slightly fewer children are obese - 9.1pc - than the national average. The figures are worse than in 2006-7, when 11.9pc were overweight and just 8pc were obese.

In year six the same percentage, 13.7pc, were overweight, less than the national average and an improvement on last year. But 18pc of children were obese, up from 15.8pc last year and worse than the national average.

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Lucy MacLeod, acting consultant in public health at NHS Norfolk, said: “Obesity is rising, which is not good news, though it is in line with the national trend. It is disappointing - we would like to be reversing the trend.”

Yarmouth and Waveney has higher rates of overweight and obese children. In reception class, 14.2pc are overweight and 10.4pc obese, worse than the national average and worse than last year. In year six, 12.8pc of year six children are overweight - better than the national average and better than last year - but nearly one in five, 19.6pc, are obese, worse than the average and last year.

Alistair Lipp, director of public health for NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney, said: “It is not a surprise when the latest data is published, but it does reinforce our determination to support families in helping children move towards a healthy weight.

“We have a number of initiatives in place, including education programmes, a mobile food store, community nutritionists, and an exercise referral scheme.” He said there are also nutrition and exercise programmes aimed at pre-school children and another, called MEND, for seven to 13-year-olds.

People in Yarmouth or Waveney interested in taking part in MEND can call 01493 334711.

vious year.

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