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Child obesity crisis sees health bosses plan to battle the bulge

PUBLISHED: 07:00 15 March 2018 | UPDATED: 09:24 15 March 2018

Bexley has one of the highest levels of child obesity in London Picture: Chris Radburn/PA Images

Bexley has one of the highest levels of child obesity in London Picture: Chris Radburn/PA Images

PA/Press Association Images

Bexley Council is drawing plans to tackle obesity in children within the borough, after a new study revealed that almost 40pc of the borough’s Year 6 children are overweight or obese.

A proposal from the council and Bexley’s Clinical Commissioning Group, NHS Bexley, calls for the development of a five-year obesity strategy, reiterating the case for addressing obesity and highlighting why action is need to prevent the growing levels.

One-in-four adults in the UK is classed as obese, and the World Health Organisation has called it one of the most serious challenges for the 21st century, with significant health, social and economic consequences.

For Bexley, the trend is even more pronounced, with the level of overweight or obese children rising from 26.7pc in Reception children to 39.4pc in Year 6 children, and less than half of 15-year-olds eating five portions of fruit or vegetables per day.

In a report to the council’s health and wellbeing board, public health manager Elaine Robertson, said: “The increasing levels of excess weight is leading to an increased burden of avoidable ill health caused by chronic conditions including diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidaemia, cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers.

“As well as the physical risks to health of being overweight and obese there are also psychological effects, for instance there is a social stigma attached to obesity and those affected often face prejudice and suffer low self-esteem.”

The council’s strategy aligns closely with Bexley’s corporate plan, Brilliant Bexley, which aims to embed health in all policies.

The proposed obesity strategy also focuses on prevention solutions, working with other local groups and public health programmes.

Ms Robertson added: “With an ageing population where people are living longer but in ill-health, there is an inevitable increased demand for services and with severely constrained resources, prevention is crucial to achieve sustainability in the health and social care system. It is now all the more important to consider modifiable risk factors for chronic diseases, one of the most important being obesity.”

The plan will also focus on creating healthy environments at schools and workplaces throughout Bexley, stabilising rates of excess weight in children to reduce the level by 5pc by the fifth year.

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