Revealed: The 'shocking' health issues of North Somerset's children
PUBLISHED: 07:00 16 September 2015
HUNDREDS of children across North Somerset are facing crippling health problems including obesity and tooth decay by the time they reach age five, sparking calls for a 'mission' to improve young people's health from a leading charity.
More than 10 per cent of four and five-year-olds across the district are obese, meaning North Somerset has the highest percentage of obese children out of every local authority in the South West.
The area also fared poorly compared to the region’s other authorities when it came to dental health among children within this age group, with some 23.5 per cent of kids suffering from tooth decay.
The figures were compiled by the National Children’s Bureau charity, which works to support children and young people across the country.
The charity found that despite the figures for obesity and tooth decay, North Somerset is in the top 10 of local authorities nationally for school progress. Almost 70 per cent of four and five year olds across the area achieve a good level of development – which is measured by literacy and numeracy standards, as well as levels of personal and social development and communication skills – by the end of reception class.
The area also fares well when compared to local authorities in other parts of the country.
North Somerset is ranked 106th for overall levels of deprivation out of the country’s 150 local authorities.
However, the South West region has a ‘higher than average’ number of children being admitted to hospital each year through injury, with more than 4,000 being treated annually.
The report also found strong links between an area’s level of childhood health problems and its level of deprivation, meaning a child growing up in a poorer area is more likely to be obese or suffer from tooth decay than a child living in a more affluent part of the country – regardless of how far apart geographically these two areas are.
Anna Feuchtwang is the chief executive of the National Children’s Bureau. She said: “It is shocking that two children growing up in neighbouring areas can expect such a wildly different quality of health.
“These variations are closely linked to poverty, with those in areas with the highest levels of deprivation more likely to suffer from a range of health issues.
“But the link between poverty and poor health is not inevitable. Work is urgently needed to understand how local health services can lessen the impact of living in a deprived area.”
North Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which regulates healthcare across the area, told the Mercury that new public health initiatives could follow when North Somerset Council adopts responsiblity for public health later this year.
A statement issued to the CCG from the authority said: “The council will take on responsibility for young children’s public health services from NHS England on October 1, 2015. This creates a greater opportunity to look at the services we provide locally to improve young children’s health.
“We welcome this report and will be looking at all available information to prioritise and plan the services we deliver with our partners.”