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Taking the burden off the young

Caroline Angus outlines an innovative project to reduce the level of childhood obesity in Suffolk

Childhood obesity is one of the most significant public health challenges faced by the UK in the 21st century. Once established in childhood, obesity often tracks into adulthood1 with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and other obesity-related conditions in later life.2 Obesity can have a negative effect on a child’s emotional wellbeing through stigmatisation and low self-esteem, which may lead to poorer levels of educational attainment.3

The National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) has been in place for over ten years and children are weighed and measured in school in Reception and Year 6. In England, approximately 1 in 5 children in Reception (22.1%) are identified as having excess weight (overweight or obese) and this rises to nearly 1 in 3 children (32.4%) in Year 6 as they are leaving primary school.4 There are higher rates of obesity among children and young people who are the most economically disadvantaged, and the difference in childhood obesity levels between the least and most deprived continues to widen.5

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