Childhood obesity rates in Cornwall improving

The number of children in Cornwall who are overweight has dropped this year according to statistics released this week.

The data is taken from the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP), which records the weight of children in reception year (aged 4-5 years) and year 6 (aged 10-11 years) 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.

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The percentage of reception age children had been increasing year on year since school year 2011/12 but this year has seen a decrease of almost 2%. The data for 2017/18 shows a reduction in the percentage of children in reception year who are overweight from 16.7% in 2016/17 to 14.9%.

The downward trend of year 6 children who are overweight has continued, 14.5% in 2016/17 to 13% in 2017/18. The data also shows that Cornwall is below national average.

Cornwall Council is working on a number of initiatives working towards reducing the child obesity rates in Cornwall. The Sugar Smart survey earlier in the year showed that 98% of people wanted healthier options available when eating out and 83% were worried that sugar was impacting the family’s health.

The Healthy Schools programme is available to all schools with a number working towards a Healthy Schools award. This includes healthy approaches to food in schools, sugar smart status and increasing physical activity in line with the chief medical officer guidelines of 3 hours per day. Cornwall Council have therefore been encouraging schools to be involved with the Daily Mile initiative where children walk or run a mile every day, as healthy weight is a combination of eating well and being active.

Cornwall Council’s portfolio holder for Children and Wellbeing Sally Hawken said: “While the rates in Cornwall appear to be getting better, we know that there is still so much more to do to ensure our children are given the best possible start in life. Trend data still shows us that children are putting on weight during primary school. By the age of 10-11 years old there are nearly double the amount of children who are obese compared from when they start school.

“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, 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 Cornwall Council and the national health campaign Change4Life to help.

“Sometimes it’s hard to make the right choice for a number of reasons and we recognise that access to good food and sports or activity is an additional cost that some families struggle to afford. That’s why organisations across Cornwall are working to make sure families can get help to reach a healthy weight.”

Any family who would like support can get in contact with the Healthy Cornwall Service by calling 01209 615600 or visiting the Healthy Cornwall Service website.

Story posted 12 October