A major report shows that child health in the UK is falling behind other European countries, with type 1 diabetes among the areas requiring significant improvement.
The report, from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, also raised concerns over rates of obesity, which is linked to type 2 diabetes, as well as mental health issues and mortality among children.
Twenty-five health indicators were examined to provide a general review of children’s health and wellbeing in the UK. These indicators included diabetes, obesity, asthma, breastfeeding and mortality.
The report said the UK could do better at managing type 1 diabetes, commonly diagnosed in children, particularly making sure that children with the condition are properly monitored by healthcare professionals.
It was also observed that more than one in five children starting primary school in England, Scotland and Wales were overweight or obese, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer in adulthood.
In 2014, the UK had a higher infant mortality rate than nearly all comparable Western European countries. Professor Neena Modi, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, says the four governments of the UK need to do more so that the UK closes the health gap on other European countries.
“We know the adverse economic impact of poor child health on a nation and yet we singularly seem to be incapable of doing anything substantive about it,” said Modi.
“As citizens we can say very loudly and clearly we do want a focus on child health and wellbeing … we can bring in child health in all national policies and make sure our government does have a strategy that crosses all departments.”
Poverty was found to be influential as 40 per cent children in England from more deprived areas were overweight or obese, compared with 27 per cent in the most affluent areas. One in five children in the UK was reported to be living in poverty.
Modi and colleagues have urged the four governments to reduce the growing health gap between rich and poor children.
Their recommendations include the development of an evidence-based child health and wellbeing strategy by each government and ensuring public health services during childhood are fully supported.
UK health ministers have said money is being invested to help tackle health inequalities. A Department of Health in England spokesman said it would be investing more than £16bn to help local government public health services.
View the report here.

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