Updated: Saturday, 20th April 2019 @ 3:28pm

Manchester kids warned to watch their weight, as National Childhood Obesity Week launches events across city

Manchester kids warned to watch their weight, as National Childhood Obesity Week launches events across city

By Kirsty Plowman

Manchester’s kids are being warned to watch their weight as National Childhood Obesity Week kicks off today.

The aim of the week is to raise awareness of how being above a healthy weight during childhood can lead to serious health problems later in life.

To support this, a whole series of events are being across Greater Manchester this week, including ones by MEND (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition…Do it!) – an organisation offering free healthy lifestyle programmes for families.

Paul Sacher, MEND's Co-founder and Chief Research and Development Officer, said it is vital to raise awareness about the dangers of being overweight during childhood as one in three children in the UK are above a healthy weight.

He said: “If we don’t, these children will face serious health problems in later life such as heart disease and diabetes.

“We know how confusing it can be for parents to recognise whether their child is overweight which is why we offer parents support in this area and help them to take the right course of action for their child.”

NHS figures from the 2010/11National Child Measurement Programme study by The Health and Social Care Information Centre show that levels of childhood obesity of children in the Manchester primary care trust area only marginally decreased from the previous year.

For children aged four to five obesity levels reduced by 1.1% from 12.1% to 11.0% and for year six children the level saw a downward turn of only 0.3% from 24.0% to 23.7%.

Barry Gillespie, Consultant in Public Health for Public Health Manchester, said that the study had a 90% participation rate and as the programme has been running for only five years an obesity trend cannot be outlined for Manchester.

Speaking about the figures he said: “At least it’s steady and not increasing at the moment.”

Recognising that childhood obesity is an issue in the Greater Manchester region Mr Gillespie says he believes that the current problems are down to underlying factors in health inequalities.

He said: “Over 40% of children in Greater Manchester live in families which are officially below the poverty line and we know that poverty and social determinates impact on health outcomes.

“People with low incomes and on benefits are more likely to eat poor quality food that are higher in sugars, higher in salts and lower in fibre and have poorer diets in general.”

NHS Manchester Healthy Weight Strategy 2010 – 2013, which is available online, outlines the steps taken to tackle obesity and describes the initiatives targeted at young people.

Mr Gillespie said: “What the strategy talks about is you can’t just focus on children you have to focus on families and communities.”

NHS Manchester work with schools, nurseries, parents and local authorities helping to advise on healthy living by focussing on physical activities, diet and nutrition.

One of the initiatives is the Manchester Healthy Schools programme which is part of Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

On Wednesday July 4 the programme is holding a free event at the Wythenshawe Forum from 10-12pm aimed at parents and carers who will be able to access resources and support around healthy eating for children and meet a number of health professionals to discuss issues around tooth decay, obesity, nutrition and diabetes.

MEND are running Move It Week alongside National Childhood Obesity Week to encourage more children and their families to get active together.

Across Greater Manchester MEND currently run programmes for five to seven year olds in Bolton, Oldham and Warrington and programmes for seven to 13 year olds in Bolton, Oldham and Trafford. 

This year's Move It Week has a globetrotting theme - giving families the chance to get active and be inspired by food, dance, sport and other physical activities from around the world!

Leading into the week, Oldham’s annual Run4fun 1.5km race at Alexandra Park takes place on Saturday June 30.

MEND’s Oldham programme is hosting a globetrotting games night at Hathershaw College of Technology and Sport Oldham Wednesday 4 July with netball coaching and a Hi 5 game for children from 5-6pm and games from around the world from 6-7pm.

Julie Hardington, of Oldham, a volunteer at MEND sessions which her son Daniel, 11, has attended for the last two years, says he now gets more exercise than he used to.

She said: “The sessions help him with healthy eating and also allow him to meet new friends.

“We are looking forward to this year’s activities and the Olympics are getting people more motivated.”

For more information on National Childhood Obesity Week and to download MEND's healthy recipes and fun activities for families during the Week, visit www.mendcentral.org/ncow

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