Nearly a quarter of 5-year-olds are overweight

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Cancer Research Scotland is calling for drastic action to wean young children off crisps, chocolate and fizzy drinks 

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12th December 2017 by Susan Smith 1 Comment

Nearly one in four primary one children in Scotland is classed as overweight or obese, according to new figures.

New NHS statistics highlight that one in 10 children is at risk of being obese while 12.4% are at risk of being overweight.

The findings have led to fresh calls for the banning of multi-buy supermarket offers on junk food.

According to the figures, in the school year 2016/17, 76.1% of children assessed in P1 were classified as healthy, 22.9% were at risk of being overweight or obese, and just 1% was at risk of being underweight.

Over the last decade, the percentage of overweight or obese Primary 1 children has increased slightly and the percentage at risk of underweight has decreased slightly.

Children from deprived areas are less likely to have a healthy weight. In 2016/17, 72.5% of children from the most deprived areas had a healthy weight compared to 80.9% of those from the least deprived areas.

Professor Linda Bauld, Cancer Research UK's cancer prevention expert, based at the University of Stirling, said: "It's scandalous we're living in a country where so many very young children are becoming overweight and obese. A great deal more must be done urgently to reverse this trend and protect our children from a lifetime of ill-health.”

Obesity during childhood can cause its own health problems but it can also lead to physical and mental health problems throughout adulthood.

An obese child is also five times more likely to be an obese adult. Obesity is also linked to 13 types of cancer.

The Scottish Government is currently consulting on a new obesity strategy that includes measures to restrict the promotion and advertising high fat, sugar and salt food.

Professor Bauld added: "It couldn't be clearer why Scotland needs a trailblazing obesity strategy which includes legislation to restrict multi-buy offers on unhealthy food and drink. This will encourage parents to opt for healthier choices during the weekly shop.

"We know it's normal for children in Scotland to consume chocolate, fizzy drinks and crisps every day, and tempting supermarket bulk-buy deals on junk food are at the heart of this poor diet.

“We owe it to our children to protect their health as well as stopping obesity from burdening both society and the NHS.”

NHS statistics class children as “at risk” of being overweight or obese because children’s bodies undergo a number of physiological changes as they grow.

Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell said: "We want to improve Scotland's wellbeing and weight. To help achieve this we launched our diet and obesity consultation which outlines measures designed to help people make healthier choices.

"This includes a range of measures to change the food environment and improve children's diets, such as rebalancing promotion of products high in fat, sugar and salt, and tackling advertising before the 9pm watershed – as well as offering advice and support to parents on healthy food, healthy weight and healthy eating patterns, starting pre-pregnancy."

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14th December 2017 by Annie Silver

Is it not time to re-introduce compulsory food and nutrition classes into the school curriculum for all pupils. I studied Home Economics at college and graduated at the time when the school curriculum was changing to a more science based course. Maybe it is time to educate all children on food and how different foods can affect their health now and in the future, rather than going down the banning route. Maybe encouraging parents to attend classes with their children would also help.