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Obesity levels among four and five-year-olds increase

Results from the 2018 Child Measurement Programme (CMP) Annual Report have shown that the percentage of obese children has increased over the past two years.

Latest data, released yesterday (Thursday April 19th) show more than one in four children assessed were overweight or obese in 2016/17. With the gap in levels of obesity now 6.2% between those living in the most disadvantaged areas (14.9%) and the least disadvantaged (8.7%). For Cardiff, the figure is 10.7%.

The CMP is a national surveillance programme run by Public Health Wales recording the heights and weights of children in their reception year of primary school.

Linda Bailey, Consultant Lead for the Child Measurement Programme said: “The number of children that are obese at the age of four to five years old has been going in the wrong direction over the past two years.

“While it is too soon to see an overall trend, there is an increasing gap in obesity levels between the most and least disadvantaged areas in Wales.”

With the problem of obesity remaining prevalent in children and younger people, Public Health Wales created the Every Child Wales programme in July 2017.

Over 2018, the programme aims to help parents of under-fives to recognise whether their child is of a healthy weight. Understanding the behaviours that contribute to obesity in the early years, with particular emphasis on reducing the consumption of sugary drinks, is important to future health.

Natalie Field, Consultant Lead for the 10 Steps to a Healthy Weight programme at Public Health Wales said: “Our research shows that parents are more likely to identify children who are a healthy weight as underweight. This may give them false reassurance that their overweight or obese child is okay. Our hope is through a variety of initiatives throughout the year we can go someway to change this perception.”

Being overweight or obese can have a direct effect on children’s wellbeing – low self-esteem, anxiety and depression. Obesity can also lead to a range of other health problems in adulthood such a type II diabetes.

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