A government press release has confirmed that childhood obesity is at its highest rate ever. According to reports from the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP), the rate of severe obesity among year 6 children (those aged 10-11) has increased by more than a third since 2007 and is now at its highest rate ever.
The government explains that children with excess weight are more likely to suffer from bullying and low self-esteem in childhood. Obese children are also more likely to have weight and health problems in their adult lives, increasing their risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
Childhood obesity rates linked to poverty
Results from the NCMP programme (which was overseen by Public Health England), showed that obesity rates in the poorest areas are almost double what they are in less deprived areas. The NCMP reported that of the 34.3% of children who are now obese, 12.8% live in the country’s most deprived areas – compared to 5.7% who live in more affluent areas.
Severe obesity is four times higher across all age groups in deprived parts of the country. These reports show that the government needs to do more to encourage activity and healthy eating in all areas of the country.
According to Steve Brine, Public Health Minister:
“Obesity is a problem that has been decades in the making – one that will take significant effort across government, schools, families and wider society to address. We cannot expect to see a reversal in trends overnight – but we have been clear that we are willing to do whatever it takes to keep children healthy and well in this country.”
Growing child obesity rates: what’s the solution?
These new findings paint a bleak picture of childhood obesity rates in England. What’s more, some of the issues perpetuating an unhealthy lifestyle (such as poverty) are not easy to reverse. So what is the solution?
The government is making plans to discuss the next phase of a calorie reduction plan to help reduce childhood obesity rates. They currently work with retailers, manufacturers, cafes, restaurants and public health NGOs to reinforce mandatory calorie labelling and restrictions on price promotions on unhealthy foods. The government is also trying to reduce sugar and calories in everyday foods consumed by children by 20%.
However, calorie reduction is twofold, and simply encouraging parents and children to eat healthier foods is only half the battle. We believe that an important next phase of the government’s plan needs to involve improving access to sports and leisure facilities, encouraging children to exercise to expend more calories and improve their overall health.
Streetspace advocates for better access to all-weather sports facilities – not just in schools but also in community areas. We believe all children should have the chance to have fun and enjoy sport, which is why we advocate for additional government funding to be channelled into schools in deprived areas. We believe that schools should be encouraged to invest in all-weather sports facilities in conjunction with community groups and coaches. This would reduce the cost of entry for local children and make exercise more accessible for all. For more information about our all-weather sports canopies, please contact us on 08450 750 760.