New report reveals extent of childhood obesity in Cambridgeshire

PUBLISHED: 07:59 20 October 2017 | UPDATED: 07:59 20 October 2017

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More than a quarter of Year 6 pupils in Cambridgeshire are overweight or obese, according to figures released by Public Health England (PHE).

The government agency said that 27.2 per cent of pupils aged 10-11 in Cambridgeshire were heavier than what it classed as a healthy weight, with 18.5 per cent of Reception-aged pupils (4-5) also classed as overweight or obese in 2016/17.

Across the East of England, Public Health England said that an average of 31.5 per cent of Year 6 pupils were overweight or obese, along with 21 per cent of Reception pupils.

Barbara Paterson, deputy director of health and wellbeing at PHE East of England said: “Although we have not seen a huge increase in child obesity rates in the region, these latest figures should still be a wake-up call as no child should suffer with obesity – our children need every opportunity to enjoy a healthy life when they are young and to avoid developing serious health problems such as diabetes, heart and liver disease.

“Childhood obesity is the challenge of a generation and we need to take collective joined-up action both locally and nationally to give our children the future they deserve.”

According to the NHS, the terms overweight and obese are defined using the Body Mass Index (BMI) measurement, which takes into account a person’s weight relative to their height.

A BMI between 18.5 and 25 is considered a healthy weight. A measurement between 25 and 30 is considered overweight, and a measurement in excess of 30 is considered obese.

The BMI data for children in Cambridgeshire was gathered as part of the National Child Measurement Programme, which determines the weight of children in Reception and Year 6 in schools across the country.

In some areas, children’s weight status is shared with their parents to help them understand their child’s growth and consider positive lifestyle changes.

Eustace De Sousa, national lead for children, young people and families at PHE, said: “A healthy weight in childhood lays the foundations for decades of healthy life as an adult. This data underlines how important it is for families to talk about health and weight as part of everyday life.

“Each year, more children leave primary school overweight or obese and our most deprived areas are the worst affected. It’s never too soon to make a change and there is lots of support from councils and Change4Life to help.”

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