Quarter of Newham children are obese

Shocking statistics from a new report reveal that over a quarter of children in Newham between the ages of 10 and 11 are clinically obese.

The health profile, published by the Association of Public Health Observatories this week, show that 26 percent of children in the borough are dangerously overweight but the report also states that 51 per cent of school children spend at least 3 hours a week exercising or playing sport which is only two percent off the national average.

NHS assistant director for Newham’s public health Tim Baker said: “The relationship between how active children are and how much they eat is complicated, and influenced by a wide range of factors.

“Offering healthy eating messages to parents and to children is a difficult business – there is lots of advice out there but families find it difficult to put this into practice in the face of all the other advertising and messages they receive combined with their busy lives and budgets.”

The report also stated that over 30,000 children were classified as impoverished which means that they come from a family who receive a means-tested benefit or fall into a low-income wage bracket.

The number of obese children has seen an 11 percent increase on last year’s health profile, while the number of children classified as impoverished actually fell by nine percent.

Mr Baker said that the good sports statistic is also more complex than it appears as schools often count the total amount of curriculum time doing physical education as contributing to the target when a fair part of each lesson is taken up with getting changed and organising the lesson.

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Mr Baker did highlight one issue that could be addressed directly at home to improve the health of the borough’s children.

He added: “One problem area is around portion size – many parents don’t know how much their children need and give them adult sized portions.

“A second issue is around snacking. For many of us snacking is much a habit than a need to satiate hunger.

“Tips around snacking include replacing high calorie snacks with healthier alternatives – fruit, nuts etc, or just making it harder to access the snacks keeping them on top of the cupboard and bringing them out as occasional treats.”

A simple guide to portion size and other food issues like snacking is available at http://www.nhs.uk/Change4Life/Documents/pdf/302468_C4L_MeSizedMealsPosterfamilyacc.pdf.