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Primary school children's weight remains a concern

Primary school children's weight remains a concern

Friday 12 July 2019

Primary school children's weight remains a concern


New data from a study looking into the weight of children at primary school has found the levels of unhealthiness "still remain a concern" with a third of some age groups classed as overweight or obese.

The 2019 Guernsey Child Measurement Programme Report shows that 17% of children aged five to six are overweight or obese, along with 29% of nine to 10 year olds.

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This is similar to findings from previous years, a spokesperson said.

Dr Nicola Brink, Director of Public Health, said: “I continue to be encouraged by the high rate of participation in this important initiative. However, these results emphasise the need for concerted action to enable children to achieve or maintain a healthy weight as they grow.

"This is of fundamental importance to the future health and wellbeing of islanders, as reducing obesity will save lives. The recent formation of the Health Improvement Commission for Guernsey and Alderney is a welcome step to supporting a healthier weight in our islands and I look forward to working with them.”

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For the first time since the measurement programme began, it has also been possible to anonymously track children’s Year 1 measurement to their Year 5 measurement. The findings show that the majority of children who have a healthy weight status in Year 1 go on to have the same status in Year 5. However, the same is true for children who have an obese weight status in Year 1, with three-quarters retaining that weight status when measured four years later in Year 5.

The 2019 GCMP Report has been welcomed by the new Health Improvement Commission for Guernsey and Alderney.

"Childhood overweight and obesity can cause social, psychological and physical health problems. The report points strongly to the importance of prevention and the need to work alongside our community to support children from an early age. To do this, it is essential that we take action across the whole system to enable healthy nutrition and physical activity," Dr Simon Sebire, Chief Executive of the Health Improvement Commission said.

"Since its formation in October last year, The Health Improvement Commission has developed new partnerships across the community to help create or enhance projects aimed at supporting healthy nutrition and physical activity in early years children. These projects will benefit weight status and the physical and mental wellbeing of children”.

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Lucy Whitman, who leads the Healthy Weight workstream at the Commission said: “We are working with a number of nursery and pre-school settings and with parent groups, on areas such as snacking, portion size and studying lunchboxes in this age group – what goes in lunchboxes and, importantly, what the children eat from those lunchboxes. Alongside this, we are piloting a new programme of support for physical activity in early years settings.”

The work being undertaken aligns with the extensive actions being undertaken by primary schools to support healthy nutrition and physical activity. Projects under the Commission’s Be Active Forum, The Daily Mile and initiatives with secondary and tertiary education and the Youth Commission are all also under way.

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