Reducing number of overweight pupils ‘will take at least five years’

Figures recorded in the Child Measurement Report 2016/2017 revealed that a fifth of four- and five-year-olds are overweight or obese, and a third of ten- and 11-year-olds.

The figures also showed that the number of obese and overweight children within these age brackets had remained the same in comparison to the previous year.

Melissa Nobrega, the founder of Caring Cooks, said that she was excited about the Health Department’s Food and Nutrition Strategy – which includes a number of action points to help tackle obesity such as potentially introducing a sugar tax – and added that organisations had to work together to deliver long-term change.

Mrs Nobrega said: ‘What we have now is a Food and Nutrition Strategy that has a number of deliverables across all age groups to work towards reducing obesity rates. We must work across government, the private and third sector, and address not only food but also physical activity, which there is currently a lack of and is also a huge contributor to obesity.

‘Caring Cooks are really proud and excited to be part of that strategy and are confident that working together will deliver long-term change, but we need to be mindful to stop comparing year on year statistics from this report in the future, as the change won’t happen overnight.’

According to the Child Measurement Report there was a higher proportion of children classed as overweight or obese living in urban areas compared to rural areas.

Mrs Nobrega said: ‘We have poor accommodation in urban areas, so often parents don’t have the right cooking facilities to prepare a meal from scratch, and then we also have a high cost of living compared to the UK, which makes fresh food out of reach for some families.

‘We need to seek out the opportunities where we can effect change, such as in schools, where we are delivering our Kitchen Garden Project and Let’s Get Cooking Programme, and make them happen. There is a lot of impetus behind driving this change now and I am optimistic that if we can be patient and work collaboratively in five to ten years’ time we will see these obesity rates drop.’

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