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Study reveals high obesity levels among Welsh children

05/07/2013 Joanna
A new study has revealed that a large minority of young Welsh children have weight issues, which primary teachers could have an important role in tackling.

Public Health Wales collected information on the heights and weights of 29,400 reception age children in Wales during the 2011-12 academic year.

It has now published a report indicating that 28 per cent of the country's five-year-olds had an overly high body mass index (BMI), including 12.5 per cent who were classified as obese.

By comparison, 23 per cent of children of the same age in England are overweight or obese, while the English region with the largest proportion of five-year-olds with an excessive BMI is the north-east, with 25 per cent.

Within Wales, overweight and obese children were most prevalent in Methyr Tydfil, accounting for 34 per cent of reception-age pupils, followed by Rhondda Cynon Taf with 32 per cent.

Contrastingly, 22 per cent of five-year-olds in Monmouthshire had a high BMI - the lowest level in Wales - as did 25 per cent in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Dr Ciaran Humphreys, consultant in public health for Public Health Wales, remarked: "This is the first time we have had a clear picture of the how children in Wales are growing and although the headline figures are worrying, this is something that can be reversed.

"We must have a response from all sectors in society including health, education and local communities themselves to ensure our children are able to adopt healthy lifestyles."

Commenting on the report, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health's officer for Wales Dr Mair Parry described the findings as "shocking" and warned that the children affected were at risk of severe health problems later on in life.

She added that in order to help check this trend, Wales' primary school teachers need to teach children the importance of a healthy, balanced diet and of how to cook nutritious meals.

This comes after researchers at Imperial College London last month reported that the number of children and young people in England and Wales admitted to hospital with obesity-related diseases more than quadrupled from 872 in 2000 to 3,806 in 2009.

Posted by Tim ColmanADNFCR-2164-ID-801608426-ADNFCR
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