Number of obese children continues to double
THE number of children who are obese and overweight is continuing to more than double between the years of reception and Year 6, council reports reveal.
In Hounslow, the percentage of children recorded as overweight in Year 6 remained at just under 40% from 2013/14 to 2016/17. This is compared to a figure of around 21% of reception children.
The percentage of children recorded as obese in Year 6 remained at just under 24.3% between 2013 and 2017. In reception it was 10.3%.
Hounslow Council says it is working on a series of measures to try to tackle the problem.
Last month figures from the Local Government Association (LGA) revealed that 23.6% of Year 6 children in London are obese and 10.3% in reception.
In Ealing, data for 2017 shows children have worse than the UK average levels of obesity with 10.6% of reception children aged four to five and 23.9% of Year 6 children classified as obese.
In Hillingdon in 2017, 9.3% of children in reception and 23.2% of children in Year 6 were obese.
All the boroughs are running a series of programmes to try to tackle the problem.
In Hilligdon, these include encouraging people to follow the UNICEF accredited community breastfeeding promotion, launching new healthy eating and physical activity education programmes, launching a new child weight management programme and an active travel programme.
As well as making promises to deal with childhood obesity in his recent draft London Food Strategy, London mayor Sadiq Khan made recommendations to public bodies, such as schools and the NHS, to help fight obesity levels.
The document said that local authorities should help schools to adopt policies such as food and health education and that Public Health England should work with the Child Obesity Taskforce to help businesses promote healthy food options.
The Child Obesity Taskforce will be launched later this year and will be made up of a group of 12 people, chaired by Mr Khan, who will work to reduce childhood obesity in London.
If your child is very overweight, the NHS recommends lots you can do to help them become a healthy weight as they grow.
Listen to your child’s concern about their weight. Overweight children often know they have a weight problem and they need to feel supported and in control of their weight.
Let them know that you love them, whatever their weight, and that all you want is for them to be healthy and happy.
One of the best ways to instil good habits in your child is to be a good role model. Children learn by example. One of the most powerful ways to encourage your child to be active and eat well is to do so yourself.
Set a good example by going for a walk or bike ride instead of watching TV or surfing the internet. Playing in the park or swimming with your children shows them being active is fun.
Any changes you make to your child’s diet and lifestyle are much more likely to be accepted if the changes are small and involve the whole family.
Very overweight children do not need to do more exercise than slimmer children. Their extra body weight means they will naturally burn more calories for the same activity. All children need about 60 minutes of physical activity a day for good health, but it does not need to be all at once.
If your child is not used to being active, encourage them to start with what they can do and build up to 60 minutes a day. They are more likely to stick to their new activity levels if you let them choose the type of activity they are comfortable with.
Walking or cycling short distances instead of using the car or bus is a great way to be active together as a family.
Try to avoid feeding your child large portions. A good rule of thumb is to start meals with small servings and let your child ask for more if they’re still hungry. Beware of high-calorie foods.
Children, just like adults, should aim to eat five or more portions of fruit and vegetables every day.
Discourage your child from having sugary or high-fat foods like sweets, cakes, biscuits, some sugary cereals and sugar-sweetened soft and fizzy drinks. These foods and drinks tend to be high in calories and low in nutrients.
Help your children avoid sitting and lying around too much, as it makes it more likely for them to put on weight. Limit the amount of time your child spends on inactive pastimes such as watching television, playing video games and playing on electronic devices.
If you have received a letter about your child’s weight after they were measured at school, you can use the contact number on the letter to speak to a health worker and get more information about what you can do and what support is available. Your GP or practice nurse can give you further advice. They also may be able to refer you to a local weight management programme for children.