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Helping children to learn and grow

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Children's body shape constantly changes as they grow and transition from baby through to adolescent.

Establishing healthy attitudes to physical activity and encouraging a healthy lifestyle in the early years will have a positive impact on reducing obesity in adulthood.1

The economic burden of children growing into adulthood with poor diet, lifestyle and possible obesity-related issues is constantly increasing.3 Estimates of the direct costs to the NHS of treating overweight and obesity (including related morbidity) in England increased from £479.3m in 1998 to £4.2billion in 2007. This equates to five to six per cent of the total NHS budget. The costs are predicted to increase to £9.7 billion by 2050.1 Estimates of the indirect costs, such as loss of productivity, suggest costs of £16 billion, which is one per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).4

Childhood obesity poses a serious challenge to these costs as obesity in childhood increases the risk of obesity and morbidity in adulthood, which will incur further NHS costs.
The introduction and purpose of the six 'Early Years High Impact Areas'5 is to articulate the contribution of health visitors to the birth to five years agenda and describes areas in which health visitors significantly impact health, wellbeing, and improving outcomes for children, families and communities. The High Impact Area documents have been developed to support the


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