County’s boost in obesity challenge

HEALTH bosses have told how the county is going in “the right direction” after new figures revealed Suffolk was beating targets to combat childhood obesity.

Statistics last year showed one in six 11-year-olds in Suffolk was classified as obese, prompting fears this could put a massive strain on health services in the future.

New figures show there are still about one in 11 children in reception class and one in six 10-year-olds regarded as obese – but health chiefs say that is an improvement on their targets.

Agencies across the region have combined to tackle the problem, which is currently costing NHS Suffolk about �10million a year to treat overweight people. This could rise to �65m by 2050 if nothing is done.

But latest figures show that programmes such as Healthy Ambitions Suffolk – which aims to make Suffolk the healthiest county in the UK by 2028 – and the Child Weight Management Service are starting to have an impact.

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The new figures have now revealed the county is beating the targets set for the percentage of obese children in reception class and Year 6.

The county was working towards a target of 9.6% for the number of children in reception class who are obese – but the actual figure is 8.59%.

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For children in Year 6, the target was to have 16.2% of children classified as obese, however the actual figure stands at 15.27%.

Last night, Michael Hattrell, health improvement manager for NHS Suffolk, said: “These figures are one of the most positive signs yet that the county is going in the right direction to sort out the obesity problem.

“Our main aim was for us to stabilise it and then decrease – and the figures show that we are stabilising it.

“At the moment, obviously everything is looking very good. It is very promising with all the work that has gone on.

“Every area in every primary care trust has issues with obesity and it is not just the health of the children that can be affected, but the parents who have to look after the children who must take into account their own health.”

Mr Hattrell said the introduction of the Child Weight Management Service in September last year had a big impact, allowing children from the ages of two to 19 to be given advice.

Elspeth Gibson, senior strategy manager for Healthy Ambitions Suffolk, said the new figures were “really encouraging.”

She added: “It’s great to see that Suffolk is beating this target and is helping the county become one of the healthiest in the country.”

anthony bond

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