Derbyshire youngsters take part in health scheme

THOUSANDS of school pupils from Derbyshire have taken part in a national scheme designed to tackle rising levels of childhood obesity.

More than 14,000 pupils participated in NHS Derbyshire County’s 2009/10 National Child Measurement Programme, with uptake considerably higher than the national average, at 94.8 per cent compared to England’s overall rate of 92.9 per cent in four to five-year-olds.

Uptake for ten to eleven-year-olds was also high – at 94.1 per cent in Derbyshire compared to a national average of 89.9 per cent.

The programme, which is offered to primary schoolchildren in two key age groups at ages four to five and ten to eleven, records each child’s height and weight, with the results providing useful information on where NHS Derbyshire can prioritise services. These can make a key difference to children’s health and well being later on.

Jane Hicken, children’s obesity coordinator at NHS Derbyshire County, said: “The publication of these figures is a timely reminder of the really important role parents and carers can play in helping the whole family lead healthier lifestyles by becoming more active and making healthy food choices.

The risk of illness and disease later in life are far greater in obese children, and the results are critical in helping us build an accurate picture of the types of services and investments we need to be putting in place to work collectively with communities and families to ensure people stay fit and healthy.

“The scheme is being rolled out across primary schools in Derbyshire again this year, and we’d encourage all parents to take advantage of the programme so that we can provide much-needed support in the community to help children make small but important changes to their diet and levels of physical activity.”

Across Derbyshire the total number of pupils eligible for the programme was 15,263. Out of this 14,413 took part. The National Child Measurement Programme has been offered every year to pupils aged between four and five years and 10 and 11 years since 2005.

There are around 650 children aged four to five who are obese in Derbyshire, with this figure rising to over 1,300 by the time they reach age 10.

The programme is one of the best ways to tell if a child is a healthy weight. It is recognised that certain medical conditions or medications may mean that the measurement may not apply in certain cases.

Information about the National Child Measurement Programme is currently being sent to parents via their child’s school.

Anyone with any concerns about their child’s weight can contact their child’s school nurse or speak to a GP. NHS Derbyshire County uses the results from the National Child Measurement Programme to assess the wider health needs of the population and no child is identified in the process.

NHS Derbyshire currently funds two programmes which tackle child obesity. These are the Health, Exercise and Nutrition for the Really Young Programme (HENRY), which promotes healthy lifestyle issues such as healthy eating, being active and emotional well being to parents and their children, and the Five60 Programme, a ten-week programme aimed at primary school pupils. Key elements include physical activity, healthy eating, and confidence building.