Weight initiative top in Waveney

A HEALTH authority topped the regional table for getting the most youngsters to take part in a nationwide weight measurement initiative.During 2008/09, 96.

A HEALTH authority topped the regional table for getting the most youngsters to take part in a nationwide weight measurement initiative.

During 2008/09, 96.3pc of reception year children across NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney area took part in the National Child Measurement Programme - the highest in the east of England.

For year six pupils, the PCT came second in the region, recording a participation rate of 93.1pc.

The figures are a significant increase from the previous year, when 86pc of reception children and 90pc of year six pupils took part. It comes following a drive to ensure parents are fully informed about the programme, along with the benefits it could bring them.

At the same time, the PCT has recorded a slight decrease in the number of children classed as obese in both age groups - from 10.4pc in 2007/08 to 9.6pc in 2008/09 for reception year and 19.6pc to 18.9pc in year six.

Marisa Fox, team leader for children's services, with NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney Community Services, said: 'We are committed to supporting families to help their children move towards a healthy weight, as being overweight seriously damages people's health. In children, this can lead to major problems later in life, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

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'The National Child Measurement Programme is an important tool for both raising awareness of these potential problems and aiding parents in helping their child maintain a healthy weight.

'We have been working hard to educate parents about the reasons the programme is in place, and have also liaised closely with the schools to make sure the measurements take place at a time convenient to them. We're delighted that these efforts have been reflected in the increasing number of families taking part.

'We also make sure that every parent in the area is given a raft of information about the small steps they can take to improve their family's health and wellbeing, as well as details on where to go if they need more help.

'There are a number of initiatives in place both inside and out of school to encourage healthy eating and exercise, all of which are free and can make a real difference. We would urge anyone who would like extra help to lead a healthier lifestyle to speak to their school nurse or visit our website for further information.'

A raft of information about healthy lifestyle initiatives running across the area, including the MEND programme and the work of the Community Nutrition Team, is available by visiting www.gywpct.nhs.uk and clicking on the 'healthy lives' tab.