Additional checks on children’s weight should be carried out to provide a better understanding of obesity levels, Durham County Council’s Cabinet will be told on Wednesday.
Information on children’s height and weight is currently gathered when youngsters are in Reception Class (age 4/5) and when they are in Year 6 (age 10/11) through the National Child Measurement Programme.
However, a report by a county council scrutiny committee recommends that additional measurements should be taken when children are 6 or 7-years-old in Year 2.
The proposal is being put forward to help health workers understand why obesity levels at reception class age in County Durham are lower than the national average but by Year 6, the rate has more than doubled.
The authority’s Joint Children and Young People’s and Adults, Wellbeing and Health Scrutiny Committee makes the recommendation in a review of obesity in primary age children.
Cllr Jan Blakey, Chair of Durham County Council’s Children and Young People’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, said: “The difference in the occurrence of obesity between these two age groups is significant but also complex as a myriad of factors impact on childhood obesity.
“A greater understanding is needed of why a gap has developed and how it can be addressed. An intermediate measurement taken at age 6/7 could possibly provide an opportunity to offer programmes at an earlier age.”
The scrutiny report, which will be presented to the authority’s Cabinet on Wednesday (14th November), notes that childhood obesity levels have reached a plateau in recent years but that the time is now right to work towards reducing obesity.
It makes reference to the impact of fast food outlets on obesity and notes the proposal within the County Durham Plan to limit the number of hot takeaways located next to schools and colleges.
It proposes that the current strategy for tackling obesity in children and young people in County Durham is reviewed and updated to reflect changes in legislation, current intervention programmes, statistics and funding arrangements.
It also notes the success of programmes including MEND and FISCH, which promote the importance of physical activity and eating a well-balanced diet.