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Childhood obesity and overweight levels remain high in East Lancashire

The National Child Measurement Programme involves measuring and weighing children at school. Children in reception (ages four and five) and year six (ages 10 and 11) are weighed, with the consent of their parents. The information is used by the NHS to plan and provide better health services for children.

The data for East Lancashire shows that in 2014/15 nearly one quarter of reception children measured were overweight (24.6%) and 10% were obese. Of the year six children weighted and measured, over one third (34%) were overweight, and nearly one fifth (19%) were obese.

In some areas, parents will automatically be sent their child’s results in the post. In other areas, parents will need to contact their local NHS to find out their child’s measurements.
The letter sent before the measurements take place typically explains how parents will be informed about their child’s results.

Nationally, about one in five children in reception are overweight or obese, rising to one in three in year six. Because the number of children who are overweight has gradually increased, we have slowly become used to it. It can be difficult to tell if your child is overweight as they may look similar to other children of their age. By recording their measurements, the NHS can obtain an accurate measure for parents and help plan services.

Research shows that if your child is overweight now, they are more likely to be overweight as an adult, which can lead to health problems in later life. This measurement is an important way of checking how your child is growing.

NHS East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has invested in and commissions weight loss classes through its social prescribing scheme which is run through Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale Community Voluntary Services (CVS), and Hyndburn and Ribble Valley CVS. In addition, members of the public in East Lancashire can get involved in the East Lancashire “Up and Active” programme which offers free weight loss classes online at: http://www.upandactive.co.uk/

Dr Mark Dziobon, Burnley GP and Clinical Director of Performance at NHS East Lancashire CCG said:

“There’s no shortage of things that you can do to help you or your child lose weight. The NHS Choices website has a top 12 things you can do, including building exercise into your daily life. For example, taking the stairs rather than using the lift, walking to the shops rather than going by car, and reducing drinking sugary drinks and sweets can make a big difference: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/weight-loss-guide/Pages/successful-diet-tips.aspx.

“Many parents have found the tips on the Change4Life website (https://www.nhs.uk/change4life-beta/your-childs-weight/home) useful in helping them make small lifestyle changes to keep their child in the healthy weight range. You can also find out what clubs, activities and fun events are happening in your local area to help too.”

If your child is overweight, NHS Choices http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/childhealth6-15/Pages/child-health-measurement-programme-overweight-advice.aspx can help you decide what steps to take and tell you what help is available.

Some parents also find it helpful to re-check their child’s BMI after a few months, to see if they have moved into the healthy range as they grow. You can do this using the NHS Choices healthy weight tool.