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Drop in obesity rates among Suffolk schoolchildren

PUBLISHED: 19:24 01 May 2018 | UPDATED: 19:24 01 May 2018

Children at Heath Primary School in Ipswich get active for the Daily Mile. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Children at Heath Primary School in Ipswich get active for the Daily Mile. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Childhood obesity rates in Suffolk are improving, latest government figures reveal.

Tony Goldson, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for health. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNTony Goldson, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for health. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The percentage of Reception pupils in the county who were classed as obese dropped from 9.1% in 2015/16 to 8.8% last year.

The prevalence among Year 6 students fell from 17.6% to 17.2% over the same period, according to data by Public Health England.

In 2017, this newspaper helped to bring the Daily Mile scheme to the county, which gets pupils running, jogging or walking a mile at primary school every day.

Earlier this year, we were also involved in the launch of the East Anglian Go Kids campaign, which is encouraging youngsters to eat healthy foods and stay active.

Tony Goldson, cabinet member for health at Suffolk County Council (SCC), said giving children the best start in life was one of SCC’s key priorities.

He added: “We lead and support a number of services and programmes to tackle childhood obesity, which include commissioning OneLife Suffolk to support children and their families across Suffolk to make healthier choices.

“We value the important role that schools play and their support of the Daily Mile and East Anglian Go Kids initiatives, which further support Suffolk’s aspirations to become the most active county in England.

“Obesity rates in Suffolk have consistently been lower than the England average, however we recognise that there is more to be done and it will take a sustained effort to bring about long term change.”

In Essex, the rate of obesity in Year 6 rose from 17.4% in 2015/16 to 17.7% in 2016/17. The percentage of obese pupils in Reception stayed at 8.5%.

Adrian Coggins, head of commissioning for public health and wellbeing at Essex County Council (ECC), said: “It is worrying to see there is still a high number of Essex Reception and Year 6 children classified as obese. ECC is committed to working on ways to combat obesity and we continue to work closely with schools through the Healthy Schools Award to tackle the issue.”

Mr Coggins said there were many “fantastic” schemes in places in Essex to help children stay healthy, and he added ECC was trying different approaches to weight management working with partners including schools, family hubs and leisure centres.

“We’re doing this to try and reach more children and families, and help people sustain healthy weight behaviours,” he said.

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