Nearly a third of children overweight

NEARLY a third of 10 and 11-year-olds in Suffolk are overweight or obese, according to figures released last night.It represents a big increase compared to the number of overweight four and five-year-olds, according to a survey carried out by Suffolk PCT.

NEARLY a third of 10 and 11-year-olds in Suffolk are overweight or obese, according to figures released last night.

It represents a big increase compared to the number of overweight four and five-year-olds, according to a survey carried out by Suffolk PCT.

More than 11,000 pupils from reception classes and year six were surveyed last term - up to 80% of each age group - as part of a national campaign to weigh and measure all school children.

The results show that 23% of children aged four to five are overweight or obese (out of a total of 4,761 surveyed) and that, worryingly, this number rises to 32.6% for 10 and 11-year-olds (out of a total 6,337 surveyed).


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It means the number of children in both age groups classed as either overweight or obese in Suffolk is 28.5%.

Of these, 9.6% of pupils in reception classes were found to be obese, as were 18.1% of year six students.

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In east Suffolk, 14.7% of all children surveyed were classed as obese compared to 13.9% in west Suffolk.

The East Anglian Daily Times is currently running an Obesity Timebomb campaign to highlight the dangers of obesity, encourage healthy eating and promote a more active lifestyle.

Norman Foster, from Suffolk PCT's public health team, said the latest figures were worrying and confirmed the concerns the NHS has about the health of too many young people.

However he said it was difficult to know exactly how Suffolk compared nationally as figures for some areas are not yet complete.

Mr Foster said: “It is very worrying because if we take the figures together a third of our young people are overweight or obese.

“With that comes lots of health problems not just for them as children but more so when they become adults - including heart disease and diabetes which can be debilitating and life-threatening.

“Obesity costs the PCTs in Suffolk about £17.5m a year and we need to help some of our young people to lose weight and become fitter and healthier.

“We have a number of support mechanisms in place for this and over the next few weeks and months we will be doing our best to promote these.”

Mr Foster said one such programme was a series of MEND (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition and Diet) courses devised by Gt Ormond Street Hospital to cover the complex issues affecting obesity in young people.

They will be available straight after half-term at venues across Suffolk and information will be sent out to homes, by schools, in the next few weeks.

“Parents and carers should be getting flyers through their doors soon,” Mr Foster said. “The sessions were piloted up in Waveney and although the final findings are not in the initial up-take and results were very encouraging.

“Not only did children lose weight but their self-esteem improved as well. It was wonderful and something we want to bring out across the whole of Suffolk.”

craig.robinson@eadt.co.uk

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