The independent London newspaper

New bid to tackle child obesity in north London

‘Two snacks a day’ guidance as figures show kids are increasingly overweight

03 January, 2018 — By Tom Foot

‘Laura’ is leading a campaign to guide residents from ‘couch to 5k’

CHILD obesity rates in Camden and Islington continue to rise despite repeated campaigns to encourage healthy eating.

Statistics published this week by Public Health England show that around 21 per cent of children in the borough aged four to five are overweight or obese. By the age of 10-11, the figure soars to 38.4 per cent. The massive difference between weight levels among children at the start and end of primary school is mainly caused by too many crisps and sweets in the lunchbox.

It is estimated that children on average consume seven sugar cubes’ worth of sugar each day and this week health officials are urging parents to adopt a “two a day max” policy when it comes to snacks.

Public Health England director Dr Yvonne Doyle said: “Children love snacking and we know that parents are concerned about them having too many unhealthy snacks. To make it easier for busy families, we’ve developed a simple rule of thumb to help them move towards healthier snacking – look for 100 calorie snacks, two a day max.”

She added: “By asking parents to follow this rule of thumb we’re helping them to give snacks less frequently while also making sure that the snacks they do give are healthier. A healthy weight in childhood lays the foundations for decades of healthy life as an adult and getting on top of snacking habits is one of a number of measures that parents can take.”

It is estimated that children in Camden and Islington are eating at least three unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks a day, with around a third consuming four or more a day. A quarter of children – 24.7 per cent – suffer from tooth decay by the time they turn five and tooth extraction is the most common cause of hospital admissions in children aged five to nine.

Meanwhile, adults are being urged to lever themselves off the couch and try jogging – for just one minute at a time – around the block. Camden and Islington Foundation Trust, the borough’s mental health authority, is advising people to take up the NHS’s “couch to 5k” challenge. Running can help you lose weight and increase bone density, and also improves mental health. Residents can download a series of motivational podcasts, narrated by “Laura”, to listen to while starting a new healthy lifestyle.

For more information visit https://www.nhs. uk/Livewell/c25k/Pages/get-running-with-couch-to-5k.aspx


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