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No improvement in Islington’s child obesity levels

Cllr Caroline Russell: Cllr Caroline Russell: "We need to be stronger on childhood obesity"

Thursday, August 14, 2014
6:24 AM

Crucial targets to tackle childhood obesity – a serious health risk which affects more than one in five youngsters – have been missed, according to a town hall report.

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And among reception age youngsters – between four and five – where one in 10 are afflicted, the problem is either getting worse or not improving.

Nearly 22 per cent of 10 and 11-year-olds and 11 per cent of four to five-year-olds in Islington are obese, according to the document, which went before an Islington Council Policy and Performance Scrutiny Committee last month.

Tam Fry, spokesman for the National Obesity Forum and chairman of the Child Growth Foundation, said; “Childhood obesity is a crisis. We have known about this for about 20 years and governments have done very little.

“The current mentality is to clean up the mess we have created, rather than teaching our children the risks of obesity, which is the problem in Islington.

“We need to put as much effort into the early years as possible.

“The council should look very seriously at a new process in secondary school, because at the moment you have young mothers going into pregnancy overweight and obese and it starts a vicious cycle. They don’t know what a healthy lifestyle is.”

“Even if we act now it’s going to take 15 or 20 years before we see real improvement.”

Cllr Caroline Russell, Islington Council’s opposition Green Party member, said: “The council needs to realise that getting people walking is cheaper than gastric band surgery and diabetes treatment, which is where obesity ends up.

“Something as simple as setting up walking maps, almost like a treasure trail which show safe and easy ways to get between playgrounds, parks and estates, could make a huge difference.”

Cllr Russell has invested some of her ward partnership cash into setting some maps up. The boards will show children and parents the best way to cross roads and generally navigate the borough.

She added: “If I get the council to think in a more joined up way between transport and children’s health I will feel I’ve made a difference.”

A spokesman for Islington Council said: “Now Public Health is part of the council there are more opportunities to work across Islington to promote healthy weight for all children.

“For children it’s not just about monitoring their weight but about getting them healthy and active and making the right choices.

“Nutritious free school meals, excellent play facilities and action on air quality all play a positive part.”

Call 0207 832 5831 for more information on the council’s free healthy weight programmes.

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