Rise in number of obese Wigan schoolchildren

Figures provided by Public Health England show that 37 per cent of children in the borough left primary school with weight problems. Picture posed by model
Figures provided by Public Health England show that 37 per cent of children in the borough left primary school with weight problems. Picture posed by model

The number of Wigan children leaving primary school overweight has risen over the past five years, with almost four in 10 reported as medically overweight or obese by year six.

Figures released by Public Health England collected from the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP), have shown that 37 per cent of children in 2016/17 reached their last year of primary school with weight problem.

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This is higher the national average of 34.2 per cent.

For the past four years, Wigan has had more overweight primary school leavers than the national average, a figure which is also steadily increasingly.

This number has gone up more than five per cent in the borough since 2012, when 31.8 per cent of leavers were classed as overweight.

Town hall bosses, however, say that the data does not take into account “annual fluctuations” such as changed in class sizes and those children who opt out of the measuring process.

Professor Kate Ardern, director of public health at Wigan Council said: “We recognise how important it is to instil healthy habits in young people and that by doing so will help them to go on and continue to lead healthy lifestyles into adult life.

“There are now more than 9,000 children in 60 primary schools and 12 early years settings participating in The Daily Mile and we are continuing to work with our early years settings to introduce the Daily Toddle.

“Both these schemes are having a huge impact on our schools and ensuring children are getting the daily physical exercise they need.

“Our scheme to tackle childhood obesity ‘Let’s Get Movin’ has been highlighted by the Local Government Association as an innovative project which gets the whole family exercising and eating healthily.”

The council is already working in partnership with a number of stakeholders from across health, education and social care.

The “Let’s Get Movin” programme works with people aged 0-17 years and their families to improve health outcomes through education and physical activity.

Prof Ardern added: “The scheme incorporates the specialist weight management service, health promotion work and healthy lifestyles intervention and
prevention education programme provided to schools and nurseries.

“These had previously been delivered by a number of different providers.

“The family approach encourages collective changes to support a child’s weight loss journey – firstly in a 12-week intensive intervention with follow-up support afterwards such as family swimming or gym membership.

“As part of The Deal for Health and Wellness, we are committed to ensuring residents of all ages lead active and healthy lives.”

One Wigan mum told how her daughter was left upset when she received a letter from council partners, Inspiring Healthy lifestyles, telling her her daughters was overweight.

Kelly Jallow, from Ince, whose daughter, Mariama, attends Britannia Bridge Primary School, now fears it will give her a complex about her weight. “To me and to everyone else, she looks fine,” said Kelly. “I just started crying when I saw the letter, I was fuming.

“I do everything I can for my daughter. She has a strict diet. When I opened that and saw it I was really upset. I just don’t understand how they can say my daughter is overweight. I don’t give her junk food and she’s really active, she never sits still.”