Bradford district childhood obesity is the highest in county

Wharfedale Observer: Mike Gibbons Mike Gibbons

The Bradford district, including Ilkley, has the highest proportion of overweight 11-year-olds in West Yorkshire, it has been revealed.

More than a third of youngsters in that age group (35 per cent) were found to be overweight or obese, according to the results of the National Child Measurement Programme.

And there is added concern at the number of those children who were found to be of a healthy weight when they were checked six years ago at the age of five.

The Bradford district’s results show that 23 per cent of pupils at reception age in 2006/7 were classed as overweight or obese, which was equal to the national average.

By 2012/13, 35 per cent of the same group of more than 2,000 children were classed as overweight or obese by the time they had reached year six, a rise of 12 per cent and two per cent above the national rate and the average figure across Yorkshire and the Humber.

Julia Burrows, public health consultant for the Council, said the increase of childhood obesity with age was “worrying” and should be a “wake-up call” to parents who needed to carefully consider their children’s diets.

And Councillor Mike Gibbons, chairman of Bradford Council’s health and social care overview committee, said the situation should ring alarms bells for both parents and the food industry.

Mrs Burrows said: “We know from experience that no-one wants to be told that their child is above a healthy weight but, after the initial shock, we hope parents begin to accept that changes are needed to give their children the best health possible. Children look to their parents and other adult family members to set an example.

“Many families are already looking for support and receive advice and support through initiatives like our weight management programmes for both adults and children and through the Good Food Advice Stall in Oastler Market.

“We understand it’s not easy changing your whole lifestyle, but little changes can make a big difference by considering being more active, cutting out the fats and sugars and eating more fruit and vegetables.

Coun Gibbons (Con, Ilkley) said: “Any increase in figures such as these is a concern. This is an issue that we can’t just pass off as we have a duty of care to our children.

“I would call upon parents and families to be supportive in understanding the pressures on children, and try to explain the health problems obesity can cause in later life.

“People in the food supply industry must also look closely at any way to reduce the ever-increasing amount of ‘junk food’ consumed by our children, which is a great concern for everyone. Young people need to know the importance of a balanced and healthy diet.”

For more information on Council health services, such as its weight management programmes and the Good Food Advice Stall in Oastler Market in Bradford, call (01274) 435387.

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