Weigh children more to help tackle obesity, says charity

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Children’s Food Trust is urging the Government to measure children more regularly to better understand when they are gaining weight.

In its new white paper, published ahead of the Government’s national child obesity strategy in January, the charity calls for the Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) to be extended to include universal measurement and reporting at the age of two and during children’s teenage years.

The Children’s Food Trust believes that by extending the current NCMP, which measures the height and weight of children in reception class and Year 6, the Government would be able to gain a better understanding of when children and young people gain weight and what more could be done to improve their nutrition.

Its call follows the release of the latest figures from the NCMP for the 2014-15 school year, published at the end of last week, which revealed over a fifth of reception children are overweight or obese.  This rises to one in three by the time the leave primary school.

It also found that twice as many children living in poorer areas are obese compared with their peers in more affluent areas.

The white paper, ‘Child obesity: their lives in our hands’, also recommends:

  • a ban on junk food advertising on TV before 9pm;
  • more local public health investment in teaching children and families to cook;
  • funding for the Government’s free childcare scheme to reflect the cost of good food for children.

Linda Cregan, chief executive of the Children’s Food Trust, said, ‘We need to be tracking children’s weight more closely, not less. Our health system monitors babies’ weight so carefully because it’s such an important indicator of their health. But as children get older, that pro-active contact on their nutrition and weight gets less. That simply can’t be right, in a country where our nutrition has become so poor that we’re having to draw up a national childhood obesity strategy. And if that strategy is to do its job, we need to know what’s working and when in childhood – coupled with far more useful and meaningful communication with parents about children’s weight, and better access to the support that helps families eat well.’

  • Read the white paper here

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