City winning battle of bulge on child obesity

GLASGOW is winning the war on childhood obesity, it was revealed today.

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Hospital admissions for children to be treated for weight issues have fallen in the last four years.

City education chiefs believe a combination of healthy eating and physical education in schools are helping Glasgow children to lose weight and stay healthy.

Figures obtained by the Evening Times show NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) treated just four children under the age of five for obesity last year, this is a marked improvement on previous figures.

In 2009/10, 16 children, aged between five and 11-years-old, admitted to hospitals in the NHSGGC area, were classed as obese.

A further nine obese youngsters - under the age of five - were also admitted that year.

However, the number of five to 11-years-olds admitted to hospitals, with conditions related to being overweight, fell to seven last year (2013).

The total number of "obese" children under the age of 12 treated has fallen by more than 50% in the last four years.

Health experts had predicted half of all children could be "dangerously overweight" by 2050.

However, drastic action - including healthy school dinners and extra PE lessons - have already helped in the city's battle against the bulge.

Removing unhealthy snacks from schools, hospitals and leisure centres, has also helped encourage children to eat healthier foods.

In recent years, school dinners for more than 25,000 city primary pupils have been transformed with the launch of new menus.

Primaries across Glasgow have been introducing their own menus - in an attempt to steer pupils away from fast foods, which tend to be high in salt, sugars and fats`.

Pupils from more than 100 primary schools now enjoy school dinners from the healthier Fuel Zone menu.

A host of NHS programmes have also allowed adults and children to learn "tricks of the trade" about healthy eating and doing physical activity.

Councillor Stephen Curran, Glasgow City Council's Executive Member for Education and Young People, welcomed the positive results.

He said: "Our young people have for many years been taught the importance of adopting a healthy lifestyle and diet.

"I'm delighted that these steps are reaping the benefits."

The Fuel Zone menu underwent strict tests to ensure it complied with Government legislation.

Samples of the meal options on the new menu were also piloted at schools across the city to ensure they passed the strictest test - the approval of the pupils.

The menu also features halal, as well as more vegetarian and salad options.

Obesity is associated with a variety of serious illnesses and is directly related to increased mortality, as well as reduced life expectancy.

It can increase the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, high blood pressure, some cancers and mental health problems.

In Scotland, obesity affects one boy in six and one girl in seven.

The new figures come a day after it was announced free school meals are likely to be provided to all children in the first three years at Scottish primary schools.

Mr Curran, added: "With healthy meal options, physical exercise and active school events and programmes in all our schools, Glasgow's young people are getting the very best start in life."

rebecca.gray@eveningtimes.co.uk

Education

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