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Call to tackle obesity in children
ONE in five children living in Swindon aged between 10 and 11 are obese, according to new figures revealed by the council.
Around 19.2 per cent of children, as they are leaving junior school, are classified as obese compared to 17.3 per cent the year before, according to a report concerning the healthy weight strategy for Swindon Council.
It also highlighted around 10 per cent of children aged under-five are obese.
Acting director of public health, Cherry Jones, said while there has been an increase in the obesity figures, a range of things can affect the results, such as an overweight child being off one year when the tests are being carried out and then being back in school the following year.
There has been a range of campaigns and activities the authority has been running to tackle the problem.
These include promoting breastfeeding, encouraging physical activities at school, raising awareness about healthy packed lunches, encouraging walking to school and educating families about healthy eating.
“There is a problem and we have been working with a range of groups to deal with the issue,” said Cherry. “We encourage healthy living at every stage of someone’s life, so right the way through from when someone is born, to starting school and onwards.”
Work being carried out with schools includes creating five minute walk zones surrounding a number of schools in the borough and a big involvement with the national Change for Life campaign which provides tips to pupils for healthy eating and living.
Deputy headteacher at Holy Rood School, Robin Christian, said a number of schemes were hosted to ensure students stayed fit.
“We have swimming classes every Wednesday afternoon which is a great way to ensure the pupils are remaining healthy,” said Mr Christian. “We have lots of sports clubs at the school, we have a lot of very fit children here.”
The Labour group’s shadow lead for children’s services, Cindy Matthews, said: “The fact that one in five 10 and 11 year olds are obese is a very concerning statistic and one that local schools, the council and the NHS are trying to tackle.
“Obviously if we do not try to tackle obesity in children now then this will have knock-on effects in the future with more adults becoming obese.
“The two key ways I feel we can start to reduce this figure is through providing as much support as possible to parents and to schools. They are the ones who have the ability to help obese children on a daily basis to become healthier and therefore they should get the council’s support.”
Swindon is on par with the national average for obese children aged 10 to 11 which is also 19.2 per cent and below neighbouring counties Bath and North East Somerset which had a 26 per cent rate for that age group.
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