Children are obese at 11

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ALCOHOL and childhood obesity have come top of a list of health problems facing Wigan.

While health and life expectancy is constantly improving in Wigan, a report has shown that in the past five years childhood obesity and alcohol related hospital admissions are still rising.

A health inequalities report - which was measured between 2005 and 2009 - revealed drops in teen pregnancy rates, cardiovascular disease rates and a reduction in the number of smokers.

Despite this, the rate of hospital admissions for alcohol related conditions almost doubled in that time.

And perhaps even more worringly, obesity in year six pupils (aged around 11) was up to 19 per cent from 16 per cent five years previously.

However, in reception year children the obesity figure was down on previous years.

However, while the statistics show rises in these fields, Wigan Borough’s Director of Public Health, Dr Kate Ardern, says the work that has been done in the meantime will see figures moving in the right direction in the near future.

Dr Ardern said: “In terms of childhood obesity we did manage to get the message through at a very young age but appears we have to work harder with the older end of primary school pupils, perhaps because this is an age where they are beginning to make decisions for themselves and this is why we are working hard with schools to try to drive down this number so children can become healthier.

“In terms of alcohol-related hospital admissions we have seen the Accident and Emergency intervention team bring great success by intervening in the cases of those who are repeatedly admitted, so we should see these numbers improve in the near future.

“We have to remember that these are long-term issues so results will not change overnight.

“We have seen how prolonged work can benefit the area and we have seen this in terms of increased life-expectancy, by reducing the numbers of smokers and cardiovascular disease intervention.

“It is thanks to the board and for the good of the future health of the borough that we have stuck with the long-term goals and that is how we will see an improvement in the overall health and well-being of the borough.”