The 2007-08 report involved NHS Leeds weighing and measuring 14,543 of our children in our reception classes and Year 6 classes last year. The key messages from the programme were:
- The picture remain very much the same as the year before;
- Rates of obesity largely match the national picture;
- In Year 6 obesity levels are slightly higher that the national picture;
- In Year 6 the number of overweight children is slightly below the national picture;
- In Reception around a fifth of our children are overweight or obese;
- In Year 6 around a third of our children are overweight or obese;
- There is a small but significant difference between deprived and advantaged areas of the city;
- Obesity affects children across socio-economic classes;
- Ethnicity data suggests that obesity levels are higher amongst most ethnic minority populations but care needs to be taken since the sample size is very small;
- More boys than girls are overweight or obese in reception;
- More boys than girls are obese in Year 6.
The picture reinforces the need to continue to improve school food and drink and to increase levels of activity and exercise. We must encourage children to eat five or more portions of fruit and vegetables every day, to reduce their fat, sugar and salt intake and generally try to reduce the snacking culture and improve the quality of school meals and packed lunches. We need to carefully consider the Chief Medical Officer's recommendations that children should be active for 6o minutes every day and adults should be active for 30 minutes five days a week. We know that once a child moves into adulthood it is very very difficult to get out of the cycle of being overweight. So we need to look carefully at how we can ansure that every child does 60 minutes of moderate activity everyday with at least twice a week this inclding activities to improve bone health, muscle strength and flexibility.
This is a hugely important priority and we also need to ensure that most of us engage in 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week. I'd again be interested in suggestions and ideas!