Almost a third of children in Northumberland are overweight and obese according to latest figures

Northumberland has the lowest proportion of overweight and obese children of the 12 local authorities in the North East, new figures show.

Tuesday, 15th October 2019, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 15th October 2019, 1:30 pm
Northumberland has the lowest proportion of overweight and obese children of the 12 local authorities in the North East, new figures show.

The findings from the Government’s National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) in mainstream state-maintained schools in England for the 2018-19 school year were released on Thursday, October 10.

The statistics show that Northumberland’s rates of overweight and obese children at both Reception and Year 6 dropped significantly on the previous year and are comfortably below the regional and national averages.

However, despite these positives, it still means that 18.9% of the county’s Year 6 pupils (age 10-11) were categorised as obese, based on body mass index (BMI) measurements, while almost a third (32.3%) were either overweight or obese.

In Reception (age four to five), 8.6% of children in Northumberland were obese and 19.8% were overweight or obese.

The prevalence of children in the county who were severely obese was 1.9% in Reception and 3.4% in Year 6.

At the other end of the scale, 2.1% of Year 6 and 1.4% of Reception pupils in Northumberland were classed as underweight – in both cases, this is the highest proportion in the region and above the national average.

The participation rate for the NCMP in Northumberland was more than 95%.

Tackling obesity – in children and adults – is a key strand running through the Northumberland Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy for 2018 to 2028.

Tackling its causes through encouraging healthy eating and physical activity are repeatedly mentioned across the document’s four themes: Giving every child and young person the best start in life; Empowering people and communities; Tackling some of the wider determinants of health; Adopting a whole-system approach to health and care.

Reacting to last week’s national figures, the chairman of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, Coun Ian Hudspeth, said: “These latest figures are another urgent reminder of the scale of the challenge we face in combating childhood obesity and the need for bold, radical action.

“Councils alongside other partners have made good progress, from health visitors supporting new parents to weight management services, but more needs to be done, especially to reduce the gap between the most and least deprived.

“Since taking on this responsibility, councils have worked hard to increase participation rates and nearly 1.2 million children were weighed in 2018-19.

“The Queen’s Speech should give more powers and funding to councils to help keep the next generation healthy, including tackling the clustering of existing takeaways and restricting junk food advertising near schools.

“Money raised from the sugar tax should also be reinvested in other council-run programmes, including exercise referral schemes and offering free or reduced-cost sport.

“Unless we solve this crisis, today’s obese children will become tomorrow’s obese adults whose years of healthy life will be shortened by a whole host of health problems including diabetes, cancer and heart disease.”