Radio Sandwell Health News

Nearly one-in-four Birmingham youngsters is obese

2013-01-26 22:52:03

Birmingham's new health boss has branded the rising number of fat children in the city as "almost a scandal" - with a quarter of 10 and 11-year-olds now clinically obese.

Dr Adrian Phillips, director of Public Health, revealed shocking new figures which showed youngsters are getting fatter instead of healthier.

A quarter of 10 and 11-year-olds are now classed as clinically obese, while the number either obese or overweight is an astonishing 40 per cent.

Dr Phillips said: "The BMI measurements of youngsters isn't going the right way, it's going the wrong way.

"Nearly one in four are obese and that is almost a scandal."

Councils are due to take back responsibility for public health for the first time since the 1970s from April 1.

Earlier this month we revealed how Birmingham would receive a £78 million Government cash boost to tackle obesity, drug abuse and sexual health.

Dr Phillips delivered the report to the Health and Social Care Overview and Scrutiny committee at Birmingham City Council.

Nationall research showed 11 per cent of four to five-year-olds are obese.

But the figure for Year 6 schoolkids is currently at 24.4 per cent, an increase of 1.3 per cent from 2009/10.

Dr Phillips' report points out that the acceleration in obesity between Birmingham pupils in Reception and Year 6 is greater than many other areas of the country.

He said: "There is evidence that children are not eating a healthy diet, with very few regularly consuming fruit and vegetables.

"Our children are eating more and unfortunately they take less exercise.

"We have remotes on TVs, when I was a kid had to walk up to it and change the channel. You can even control your heating from your armchair.

"The whole of society is driven by expending less energy.

"Sugar is also really important to keep an eye on. Fizzy sugary drinks add half a stone to body mass over six months.

"Electronic games are really exciting for kids, especially boys. We need to do something to compete with these games.

"There are some real interventions we can apply systematically in Birmingham."

The interventions include continuing with the National Child Measurement Programme, whereby youngsters are frequently assessed.

Dr Phillips said: "At the moment this programme is commissioned through the school nursing team. They measure all the children from Year 6 onwards, once a year.

"That gets uploaded to a national data base and, depending on the measurement, parents get a letter saying their child is overweight or obese.

"But do we intervene once the child is obese or go up stream and work from an earlier age, so they don't get obese in the first place?"

And he added: "There are two aspects to look at when tackling the problem; changing the environment for the child and also encouraging them to eat healthily.

"We could try and make cycling more attractive and encourage more youngsters to walk to school by setting up more parking zones around schools."

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