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Fifth of Telford & Wrekin's children are obese

By Rob Smith | Telford | News | Published: | Last Updated:

More than one in five of Telford & Wrekin's pupils are obese when they finish primary school.

NHS Digital data shows that 21.5 per cent of Year 6 pupils in Telford and Wrekin in 2018-19 were obese.

This was an increase on the 19 per cent who were considered obese in 2006-07, the earliest year with available data.

Another 15 per cent of Year 6 children were overweight last year, meaning 36 per cent of the area’s pupils in the last year of primary school were unhealthily overweight.

Five per cent were severely obese, with a BMI in the top one-in-250 for children. This was higher than the national average of four per cent, which itself is a record high for the fourth consecutive year.

Meanwhile, in the rest of Shropshire, 17 per cent of Year 6 pupils were obese in the same time period. This was the same as in 2006-07.

Overweight children made up 13 per cent.

Three per cent of children were severely obese.

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The Obesity Health Alliance, a coalition of organisations working to reduce obesity, said children are growing up in an environment that is “flooded” with unhealthy food and drinks and called on the government to "stem the tide".

Caroline Cerny of the group said: "It’s time for the government to bring in the measures that we know will stem the tide of unhealthy food marketing and promotions, starting with the long overdue 9pm watershed on junk food adverts on TV and online.”

A quarter of children in reception were overweight or obese in Telford & Wrekin – 25.6 per cent. That figure for Shropshire was 22.7 per cent.

In 2018-19, 11 per cent of Telford & Wrekin's reception class children were obese or overweight

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Public Health England works out obesity using the 1990 British growth reference chart, a large collection of statistics used to determine a child's BMI. It defines a child as obese if their BMI is in the chart's top five per cent, and overweight if they are in the top 15 per cent.

Obesity can lead to heart problems and type 2 diabetes later in life, as well as psychological issues such as low self-esteem and depression.

Deprivation link

The data also suggests that children often develop weight problems while at primary school.

Across England, Year 6 children from the most deprived backgrounds were more than twice as likely to be obese than those from the wealthiest areas.

NHS chief executive Simon Stevens said obesity is a “dangerous public health threat” for children, and that the figures show the country is not on track to meet the government's goal of halving childhood obesity.

"While the NHS will be there for patients, services and budgets will obviously be placed under more strain,” he added.

“So we also need combined action from parents, businesses and government to safeguard our children from this preventable harm.”

Public health minister Jo Churchill said: “This problem has been decades in the making but we can turn this around.

“Our world-leading childhood obesity plan will help all families by making the healthiest choice the easiest choice, whether at home, at school, or at play.

“We are working with councils to tackle child obesity locally through new and ground-breaking programmes, cutting large amounts of sugar from food and soft drinks, and investing millions to give children opportunities to exercise in schools.”

Rob Smith

By Rob Smith
Reporter

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star based at Ketley in Telford.

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