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One in ten children faces obesity

Tuesday December 15th, 2009

About ten per cent of English children will be obese within five years, researchers claimed today.

School childrenAnd children from the poorest families are most likely to be the fattest, according to an analysis.

For teenagers, the answer may lie in joining clubs, according to further research published today.

Last week the British government claimed it had turned the corner in the battle against childhood obesity - as official figures showed little increase over 12 months amongst primary school children.

But the new analysis says England has seen a massive increase in children's obesity rates between 1995 and 2007. During that time the proportion of obese boys, aged two to ten, doubled to 6.9 per cent. And by 2005 7.4 per cent of girls were obese.

Writing in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, the researchers say the increase in obesity rates among younger children stopped in 2004 - but they warn that weight problems among teenagers are also increasing.

Researcher Dr Emmanuel Stamatakis, of University College London, writes: "If trends continue as they have been between 1995 and 2007 in 2015 the number and prevalence of obese young people is projected to increase dramatically, and these increases will affect lower social classes to a larger extent."

* Teenagers who join clubs of all kinds enjoy better health and healthier lifestyles than others, according to a study of six countries in the same journal.

They are also less likely to indulge in risky behaviour.

Across England, Canada, Belgium, Italy, Poland and Romania young people join all kinds of clubs including sports clubs, voluntary organisations, religious groups and cultural organisations, which are popular in Poland.

Researcher Dr Alessio Zambon, of the University of Turin, Italy, said: "The present findings support the notion that encouraging participation in a range of associations is a useful and beneficial policy goal especially for young people, increasing their facility to access and become part of wide ranging networks."

* Meanwhile another piece of advice last night suggests how to make school playgrounds safer - use sand.

Canadian researchers found that granite sand is safer than the wood fibre that is often used around play equipment, cutting the risk of broken arms by 80 per cent.

Andrew Howard, of the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada, reports his findings in PLoS Medicine.

JECH 2009; doi 10.1136/jech.2009.098723, doi 10.1136/jech.2009.088443

PLoS Med 6(12): e1000195. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000195

Tags: Child Health | Diet & Food | Europe | Fitness | North America | UK News

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