Health experts: ‘Children in North Somerset are at serious risk of health problems’ as the number of obese kids rises in all age groups

Close to 30 per cent of children in North Somerset are overweight or obese.

Close to 30 per cent of children in North Somerset are overweight or obese. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

North Somerset’s children are at ‘serious’ risk of long-term health problems, it has been warned, with more than 20 per cent of children entering school overweight or obese.

New figures have revealed 21 per cent of four-year-olds and 29 per cent of year six pupils – who are aged 10 or 11 – in the district are overweight or obese.

This has prompted North Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and a diabetes charity to issue warnings about the risks.

Dr Mary Backhouse, chief clinical officer for the CCG, said: “In North Somerset we have seen an increase in obesity in all age groups.

“Being overweight can seriously increase your risk of developing a number of long-term and even life-threatening health problems. So it’s important to address this even from a young age.

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“Small changes can have a big impact and we are urging parents to think about what they can do to help their children eat the right food, in the right amounts, and to ensure they do regular activities that help get them moving outside of school hours.”

North Somerset Council has also expressed its concern at the prospect of children entering secondary school overweight.

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Its spokesman said: “One in four North Somerset children is overweight by the time they reach secondary school. These children are at higher risk of developing a number of health conditions in adulthood including, type two diabetes and heart disease.

“The data will also mask inequalities within North Somerset, with some areas having significantly higher rates than the North Somerset average. This underlies the importance of continuing to deliver North Somerset’s multi-agency childhood obesity strategy.”

Ninety per cent of people with diabetes are obese or overweight and nationally diabetes costs the NHS more than £1.5million every hour.

Diabetes UK – a leading charity – is campaigning for foods to contain less fat, sugar and salt, as well as a change to marketing of junk food on television, which it believes could help reduce the number of overweight and obese children in North Somerset.

Phaedra Perry, South West head of diabetes said: “More needs to be done to make the healthy choice the easy choice. Being overweight is the most important risk factor for type two diabetes but we know keeping a healthy weight can be tough.

“We know the society we live in doesn’t always make the healthy choice the easy choice. To change this, a range of policy changes are needed to create a healthier environment which will help children reduce their risk of developing type two diabetes in the future.

“Alongside the soft drinks levy, we need effective reformulation programmes to lower the sugar, salt and saturated fats in the foods we buy, as well as closing the loopholes on marketing junk food to children online and on TV.”

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