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Health

Overall Health

Physical activity throughout a person’s life span affects cardiovascular disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancers.

It is recommended that an adult should have a sustained level of 30 minutes physical activity per day, 5 days a week and a child should have 60 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each day.

Obesity

‘’Physical activity in combination with a healthy balanced diet has a direct relationship with helping to prevent obesity or persons being overweight.’’

The high levels of obesity in children are recognised nationally and the National Childhood Measurement Programme and the Department for Health’s social marketing ‘Change4Life’ campaigns aim on tackling this rising concern. The degree to which inactivity is responsible for current obesity rates has not been established but there is evidence to suggest that children who are less active are more likely to have excess fat.

Organisations representing nearly every doctor in the UK have united in a single campaign to tackle rising levels of obesity. A spokesman for the campaign, Prof Terence Stephenson from Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC), said “Almost a quarter of adults in the UK are thought to be obese and some predictions suggest half of children will be obese or overweight by 2020, with Prof Stephenson saying they were “storing up problems for the future. This is a huge problem for the UK. It’s much bigger than HIV was, much bigger than swine flu. Every doctor I’ve ever spoken to feels obesity is a huge problem for the UK population.”

The Department of Health said it welcomed the colleges’ “emphasis on obesity as this is one of our key public health priorities,” and highlighted the change4life campaign to encourage healthier living, and the “responsibility pledge” by some food and drink companies to improve public health.

The latest NCMP (National Childhood Measurement Programme) data shows a positive correlation between deprivation and levels of childhood obesity.

The study provides high-level analysis of the prevalence of ‘underweight’, ‘healthy weight’, ‘overweight’, ‘obese’ and ‘overweight and obese combined’ children, in Reception (aged 4–5 years) and Year 6 (aged 10–11 years), measured in state schools in England in the school year 2010/11.

Key Facts

 In Reception, over a fifth (22.6%) of the children measured were either overweight or obese. In Year 6, this rate was one in three (33.4%).

  1. The percentage of obese children in Year 6 (19.0%) is over double that in Reception (9.4%)
  2. The prevalence of children with a healthy weight was higher in Reception year (76.4%) than Year 6 (65.3%). In both years a higher percentage of girls were at a healthy weight than boys. In Reception year 77.9% of girls and 75.0% of boys were a healthy weight and in Year 6 this was 66.6% and 64.0% respectively.
  3. The overall prevalence of underweight children is higher in Year 6 (1.3%) than in Reception (1.0%). In Reception, a higher percentage of boys were underweight than girls (1.2% and 0.8% respectively); whereas in Year 6, a higher percentage of girls were underweight than boys (1.5% and 1.1% respectively).
  4. Obesity prevalence varied by Strategic Health Authority (SHA). South Central SHA has the lowest obesity prevalence for both Reception and Year 6 (8.1% and 16.5% respectively) whilst London SHA showed the highest obesity prevalence (11.1% and 21.9% for each age group respectively).
  5. As in previous years, a strong positive relationship existed between deprivation and obesity prevalence for children in each age group. The obesity prevalence among Reception year children attending schools in areas in the least deprived decile was 6.9% compared with 12.1% among those living in areas in the most deprived decile. Similarly, obesity prevalence among Year 6 children living in areas in the least deprived decile was 13.8% compared with 23.7% among those living in areas in the most deprived decile.