HEALTH bosses in Suffolk have cautiously welcomed new figures which indicate they are winning the battle against childhood obesity.

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Childhood obesity levels in Suffolk

2009/10 2010/11 2011/12

Obesity (reception) 8.9 8.6 8.5

Obesity (year 6) 15.7 17.5 15.9

Overweight (reception) 13.0 13.4 12.9

Overweight (year 6) 14.0 14.2 13.6

Figures in per cent

The National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP), published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre, show in 2011/12 15.9% of year six children and 8.5% of reception class pupils in Suffolk were classed as obese.

That compares with 17.5% of year six pupils and 8.6% of reception aged children in 2010/11.

Meanwhile, the number of children classed as overweight has also fallen. This year 13.6% of year six pupils and 12.9% of reception children were recorded as being overweight.

Those figures compare with 14.2% of year six children and 13.4% of reception pupils in 2010/11.

NHS Suffolk’s health improvement manager Michael Hattrell told the EADT the purpose of the programme is to offer parents information about their child’s weight but also practical advice on improving their lifestyles.

“There isn’t a huge change in the figures but the results are looking positive,” he said.

“But we need to make sure every child out there is given the opportunity to improve their lifestyle.

“The NCMP is a way of us informing parents of their child’s weight but also offering help and support.

“Included in every letter is advice on where parents can go to help improve their child’s diet and level of activity.” Dr Peter Funnell, chairman of Health Ambitions Suffolk, a project bidding to make the county the healthiest in the country by 2028, added: “We’re delighted by the news and the progress that’s being made.

“We must not get distracted by short-term figures – this is a long haul.

“I think many of us are pleased to see it and we hope our contribution made a difference but there are complex reasons for these changes and they can go up and down over the years. We’re looking at long-term trends – if we see this over five or 10 years we’ll really know we’re making progress.” Mr Hattrell said Live Well Suffolk run a series of Alive ’n’ Kicking programmes to help target children’s weight.

He added: “The key advice to parents is that there is support out there.

“It can be very difficult receiving a letter telling you your child is overweight or obese but we are not pointing fingers.

“We are just trying to show how to access the support available.

“The important things to remember are to keep an eye on portion sizes and increase your child’s activity levels as well as reducing their intake of fatty foods.

“If your child has a packed lunch, make sure there are healthy options included.

“It is small things that can make a difference.”

n To find out more about the help on offer visit www.livewellsuffolk.org.uk or call the team on 01473 22 9292.

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