Youngsters' obesity problems revealed

A QUARTER of primary school children in Suffolk have weight problems, worrying new figures have revealed.

A QUARTER of primary school children in Suffolk have weight problems, worrying new figures have revealed.

One in four of our youngsters are either obese or overweight, according to a new survey, which health bosses have described as “horrifying”.

Nearly a quarter of four -year-olds are overweight or obese - a rise on last year - while one in four 10-year-olds suffer the same problem, although that has fallen from one in three last year.

The figures come from Suffolk Primary Care Trust (PCT) after the Body Mass Index of children in reception class, who are aged four and five, and year six, aged 10 and 11, from the county's schools was measured.

Sally Hogg, head of health improvement partnerships for the PCT, said despite the improvement for 10-year-olds, the figures were worrying.

She said: “The figures are horrifying and we are at a stage where we have an obesity crisis across the country and we need to look at how we are going to handle it.

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“All of us need to change lifestyles but we are looking at small change to make a big difference.”

Mrs Hogg said the PCT was looking at the way babies are weaned through to pre-schools and the way children eat.

She said the PCT is working with a variety of different agencies, including sports and voluntary groups.

Two of the reasons pinpointed by Mrs Hogg for the state of the county's children include eating fast food and a reliance on technology - resulting in children playing in front of a computer rather than outdoors where they get exercise.

But Martin Goold, Suffolk county secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said the decline in children's health stemmed from the sale of school playing fields combined with a decline in the nutritional value of school meals.

He said: “Now there is so much concentration on reading, writing and the national curriculum which very often squeezes out more physical activity including school sports.”

2005-06(per cent) 2006-07 (per cent)

Reception Class overweight 13.39 13.82

Reception Class obese 9.56 9.63

Total overweight/obese 22.95 23.45

Year Six overweight 14.5 9.63

Year Six obese 18.1 16.22

Total overweight/obese 32.61 25.85