Report reveals high levels of child obesity in West Norfolk

Report reveals high levels of child obesit
Report reveals high levels of child obesit

Childhood obesity rates in West Norfolk are among the highest in East Anglia and are not yet falling, new data has suggested.

Nearly a quarter of the borough’s four and five-year-olds, and more than a third of 10 and 11-year-olds, are classed as either overweight or obese, according to the survey.

The area remains in the top five among all districts in East Anglia for the problem, and is now the worst in Norfolk for the proportion of overweight or obese 10 and 11-year-olds, overtaking Yarmouth.

And a senior health official says the figures should act as a spur for action.

Barbara Paterson, deputy director of health and wellbeing for Public Health England in East Anglia, said: “Although we have not seen a huge increase in child obesity rates in the region, these latest figures should still be a wake-up call.

“No child should suffer with obesity – our children need every opportunity to enjoy a healthy life when they are young and to avoid developing serious health problems such as diabetes, heart and liver disease.

“Childhood obesity is the challenge of a generation and we need to take collective joined-up action both locally and nationally to give our children the future they deserve.”

The figures were recorded as part of the annual National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP), which records the weights of children in both the reception year and year six.

The samples, which were taken during the 2016-17 academic year, include around 1,500 reception pupils and 1,300 in year six and measure children who both live in and attend schools in the borough.

Of those who live in West Norfolk, 24.1 per cent of reception children are said to be overweight or obese, while 35.9 per cent of year six pupils fall into the categories.

For those at school in the borough, the figure is 24.2 per cent in reception and 36.2 per cent in year six.

The year six totals are up around two per cent on the previous year, though the reception level remains broadly stable.

Across the region as a whole, the proportion of children classed as obese rose slightly, though the number described as either obese or overweight was narrowly up in the reception year, though down slightly in year six.

An action plan to reduce childhood obesity rates was published by the government last year and included high-profile measures like a levy on soft drinks, which is due to come into force next spring.