Tackling child obesity must be made a priority in Calderdale health officers warn

Latest figures for 2018-19 show the proportion of reception pupils in the district who are overweight or obese has increased
Latest figures for 2018-19 show the proportion of reception pupils in the district who are overweight or obese has increased

Tackling a growing weight problem among reception class age children must be a priority, Calderdale councillors have been told.

Latest figures for 2018-19 show the proportion of reception pupils in the district who are overweight or obese has increased by 5.5 per cent over the past three years and is now exceeded Calderdale Council’s set intervention level.

It suggests that one in four reception children are either overweight or obese.

The latest report to the council’s Strategy and Performance Scrutiny Board the issue of excess weight was looked at for two groups, children aged four or five and children aged ten or 11 (Year 6).

The Year 6 proportion of pupils who are overweight or obese has also being increasing and now stands at at 34.4 per cent – it is highest in the most deprived areas of the borough and in children who are of Pakistani ethnic origin, says the report.

The issue is a complex one and steps the council is taking includes expanding its commissioned Food For Life programme to include more awards in early years settings and schools as well as care homes and hospitals, supporting Calderdale Food Network to implement healthy food aims expressed by Sustainable Food Cities across the borough, readying the council’s sign-up to the Local Government Declaration on healthy weight which carries a commitment to reducing unhealthy weight in the borough’s population and using policy across the council to address eating behaviours, which are the biggest cause of childhood obesity.

Uptake is improving for existing specific school-based initiatives such as the SugarSmart campaign but as the issue is complex benefits are likelier to be seen in the long term.

A “whole system” approach means partner organisations will also be involved to achieve a borough-wide response with targeted action in Park ward.

A co-ordinated approach will be key with behavioural change at its heart.

The board receives regular reports on the authority’s performance with a number of super key performance indicators and a series of wider key performance indicators from which a number are focused on in each presentation.