Leeds achieves lower childhood obesity figures

Benedict Jephcote
Thu, 02 May 2019
Leeds achieves lower childhood obesity figures
Leeds has become successful in driving down childhood obesity numbers, according to new figures.

Across the rest of England type 2 diabetes figures are on the rise among primary school children, but experts say Leeds is bucking the trend.

The data came from the national child measurement programme (NCMP), which ensures all children are weighed when they begin and leave primary school.

The numbers, unveiled at the European Congress on Obesity, showed that obesity rates in five-year-olds across the city dropped from 9.4% in 2013-14 to 8.8% in 2016-17.

A team from Oxford University have analysed the findings and think new parenting lessons, which have been introduced in the city, may have contributed to the lower obesity rates.

The eight-week programme, Health Exercise Nutrition for the Really Young (Henry), involved giving 6,000 families in Leeds lessons about healthy food choices and cooking nutritious meals from scratch.

Speaking to ITV News, Professor Susan Jebb from Oxford University and who led the study, said: "Just educating people often just hasn't been enough. What they've succeeded in doing in Leeds by using this very supportive approach and working with families, giving them practical skills and helping them to enact those parenting practices which are going to lead to healthier lifestyles."

However, Professor Jebb said that Leeds has also made other changes which may also have impacted the rates.

She said: "Leeds has set about training all of the healthcare professionals that come into contact with young children and their families, so that every moment families come in contact with the health system they're getting consistent, helpful and supportive advice which gives them tips on how they can introduce healthy diets and physical activity for their children."

The findings have been published in the Paediatric Obesity journal.
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