Childhood obesity continues to remain a major public health priority;it is not only a serious and growing problem for individual children and the wider population but is also a significant contributor to health inequalities.
Treating obesity and its consequences is currently estimated to cost the NHS £5.1bn every year. (Department of Health, 2016).
The rates of excess weight in childhood are rising and childhood obesity is associated with various non-communicable diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, musculoskeletal problems and poor mental health.
Northumberland was above the UK national average, and over a fifth of reception age (4–5 years) children and over a third of year 6 children (10–11 years) were overweight or obese. Obesity prevalence was higher in boys than girls in both age groups. Obesity prevalence for children living in the most deprived areas in both age groups was double that of those living in the least deprived areas.
Integrated Paediatric Public Health Service for 0-19 year old children called 0-19 Healthy Weight Programme – includes health visiting and school nursing promoting the health and wellbeing of all children to reduce inequalities through targeted intervention for vulnerable and disadvantaged children and families. Focus is on improving public health outcomes through prevention and early intervention:
•Smoking – decrease rate;
•Breastfeeding – increase rates;
•Emotional health and well being;
•Deliver the Healthy Child Programme; and
•Work with partners including children’s social care, education, and voluntary agencies.
The programme relates to a national strategy of ‘Make Every Contact Count’ (MECC) meaning any professional interaction, whether from a public health team member, teacher, health visitor, GP or any other professional that has an interaction with a child has the opportunity to influence their health and wellbeing positively.
Key data is collected including:
•Height, weight and Body Mass Index(BMI);
•Dietary habits and evaluation of food habits;
•Development and behaviour evaluation;
•Exercise and activity levels;
•Psychological and emotional assessment;
•Targets and goals progress – ‘SMART’ targets being Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed; and
•Factors affecting compliance to agreed action plan.
Active use of Health Visitors has had a significant impact on 0-19s wellbeing in the UK including:
•Reducing perinatal mental health problems, which currently costs the UK £1.2bn a year;
•Reducing complications from childhood obesity; and
•Canhelp children at the bottom of the socio-economic scale, with studies showing that intensive health visiting programmesfor vulnerable families reduced the likelihood of their needing to use other social care services by the age of 12 – and, for the most high-risk families, by the age of 4; and
•School nurses also helped improve overall wellbeing of children living with long-term conditions, helping improve their academic performance and outcomes.
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