Concerns about overweight children
ONE in five children in Suffolk are overweight or obese by the time they start school, latest figures have revealed.Last night the county's health chiefs assured progress was being made and that help was available for parents struggling to encourage their youngsters to shape up.
ONE in five children in Suffolk are overweight or obese by the time they start school, latest figures have revealed.
Last night the county's health chiefs assured progress was being made and that help was available for parents struggling to encourage their youngsters to shape up.
According to a report released yesterday by The Health and Social Care Information Centre, 21pc of children in Suffolk are overweight or obese by the time they start school - rising to 27.9pc by the time they reach Year 6, the final year of primary school.
The research involved weighing and measuring 5,604 children of reception age (a participation rate of 93.3%) and 5,486 youngsters in Year 6 (a participation rate of 89.6%).
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When broken down further the figures show that 12.9pc of youngsters are overweight by the time they reach reception age, increasing to 13.4pc by Year 6 and 8.1pc are judged to be obese, rising to 14.5pc.
But last night bosses from the county's primary care trust said this was an improvement on last year.
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Michael Hattrell, health improvement manager with NHS Suffolk, said: 'Last year 13pc were overweight at reception year and 14pc by Year 6. Meanwhile 8.8pc were obese at reception year and 14.4pc by Year 6. So we have actually seen an improvement and are doing quite well.'
Mr Hattrell said the county was continuing to work hard to encourage a healthy lifestyle and that support and advice was readily available.
He said this included a special hotline for any parent with a child between two and 19 years of age through which they could make an appointment with a dietician and a physical activity advisor.
Other programmes include an activity initiative in partnership with Ipswich Town Football Club and a Fit for Fire Fighting scheme now running out of Bury St Edmunds.
This was together with continuing projects such as Healthy Ambitions Suffolk and an investment of �4.5m over the next three years to help target those people most at risk.
Special courses for overweight children are also being extended across the county, with children invited to take part in two-hour sessions, twice a week for 10 weeks to help them improve their eating and exercise habits.
Mr Hattrell added: 'The important thing is that there is support out there for people - not just children but adults as well. We are there to help and want to make Suffolk the healthiest county by 2028.'
Anyone who would like advice, support and guidance on how to live a healthier lifestyle can contact the helpline on 01473 704030.