North East Essex: One in three children is obese

ABOUT one in three children in north east Essex is over weight or obese, the latest figures have revealed.

Health experts have expressed fears that children who are overweight will suffer from more serious health problems when they are older.

Kate French, senior health improvement adviser for NHS North East Essex, which is now called Anglian Community Enterprise, said: “One in three is an awful lot and this is an issue which needs to be addressed.

“If someone is carrying extra weight when they are young, that’s unlikely to change when they get older without intervention.

“Obesity can lead to all sorts of medical problems such as diabetes, heart disease and even structural damage to knees and back.


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“Childhood obesity is not simply a matter of ignorance over healthy eating, many people are being misled by labelling – the industry has to take some of the blame.”

Anglian Community Enterprise has been measuring and weighing children in reception (4 and 5 years old) and Year 6 (10 and 11 years old) as part of the Government’s National Child Measurement Programme.

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“We are picking up obesity at an early age and tracking the children through their school years,” said Ms French, who is the Tendring manager for MEND – a programme designed to help overweight and obese children aged between seven and 13.

MEND, or Mind, Exercise, Nutrition… Do it!, in the district is proving twice as successful as the national average, and Ms French believes that it is proof that intervention at a young age can work.

The programme combines all the elements known to be vital in tackling obesity in children including family involvement, practical education in nutrition, increasing physical activity levels and behavioral change.

National data just released shows that across the UK the average BMI (body mass index) reduction after a MEND programme was 0.8, however in north east Essex it was 1.2.

And the UK average waist circumference reduction was 2.6cms and in north east Essex it was 5cms.

“There has always been rock-solid evidence that the MEND programme helps children lose weight and keep it off, as well as improving their self-esteem,” said Ms French.

“These latest figures show that the programme is working particularly well in north east Essex. Teaching children how to keep fit and eat healthily, like we do on the MEND programme, does work if done in the right way.”

The next local MEND programme starts on May 12 and recruitment onto the programme is now taking place. MEND sessions are held twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at Clacton Coastal Academy Community Centre over a nine-week programme.

Further information can be obtained by telephoning Kate French on 01255 206272 or by visiting www.mendprogramme.org.

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