A third of children are overweight

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ONE in five 11-year-olds in Wigan is technically obese, according to new figures.

A report released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre revealed that one in five (19.4 per cent) of year six children in the borough fell into this medical category in 2011/12.

While it is below the North West average of 19.8 per cent, there was another worrying statistic for health and education chiefs, when the figures revealed an increase in year six pupils deemed to be “overweight” from 15 per cent in 2010/11, to 16.2 per cent in 2011/12 – above the North West average of 15 per cent.

Overall, a third of children are currently overweight or obese.

The report revealed that just 8.6 per cent of children in reception were obese, meaning the number more than doubles by the time they reach the end of primary school in the borough.

Dr Kate Ardern, Director of Public Health for Wigan Borough said: “The increase in levels of obesity from early childhood into adulthood is a familiar story seen across all developed nations.

“Worryingly this trend is echoed in Wigan Borough where obesity in Year Six is double that seen in Reception aged children.

“Levels of obesity in Year Six aged children have remain stable at 19.4 per cent, however there has been an increase in overweight children to 16.2 per cent (from 15 per cent in 2010-11).

“It is important that we keep track of our children’s weight; in Wigan more than one in three children are currently overweight or obese.

“This could lead to health problems in the future as 9 out 10 children may grow up with dangerous levels of fat in their bodies, putting them at greater risk of developing long-term health problems. Work across Wigan Borough CCG and Wigan Council has led to the development of a pathway of Healthy Weight services for children and young people aged 0 to 18 years and their families.

“The services aim to increase the number of children in the Borough that maintain a Healthy Weight. We aim to offer a range of flexible service to all, including extra support to those who need it more.

The news has also brought about concerns from education chiefs. Coun Susan Loudon, Cabinet member for children and young people, said: “The ongoing rise in overweight in school-aged children is a major ongoing concern, as a result all services are currently under review.

“Wigan Council’s School Meals Provider MetroFresh work closely with schools to develop bespoke menus to ensure that all pupils have access to a nutritionally balanced, value for money meal during the school year, giving them a healthy start in life.”

The Healthy Weight 0-5 Service is delivered by WLCT in Children’s Centres and Early Years Settings across The Borough and includes training for professionals around physical activity and diet, weaning and lifestyle programmes for parents and carers and healthy lifestyle courses in pre-schools.

“This service incorporates the MEND programme, which empowers children and adults to become fitter, healthier and happier and to reach a healthier weight. MEND is available to children aged two to four years and their families.

“For more information contact 01942 488481.”