Tower Hamlets ‘turning corner’ in 10-year battle against child obesity as national rates shoot up
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Local authorities are calling for urgent government action after a shock rise in child obesity with 600 youngsters being treated for Type 2 diabetes normally only seen in adults over 40.
The 14 per cent increase in just 12 months is against a background of Tower Hamlets council’s long-running campaign to reduce obesity with health programmes in schools.
The Local Government Association representing all town halls fears the “devastating consequences” of rising diabetes, on of the first anniversary of the government’s childhood obesity plan.
“We need action on this major public health ‘timebomb’,” the association’s Community Wellbeing Board chairman Izzi Seccombe said.
“This is the devastating consequence at an early age of obesity usually linked with major health conditions later in life.”
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Paediatric diabetes clinics were treating 621 children and young people under 25 in England and Wales last year, according to the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. These included 15 children aged five to nine.
The East End’s child obesity was the worst in the country 10 years ago, when a specialist child clinic had to be opened at the Royal London Hospital.
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Yet Tower Hamlets schools are now among the top-scorers for City Hall healthy living awards.
Public consultations on child obesity was started last October by Tower Hamlets Council on how children can be helped to lead healthier lives.
Training on how to tackle child obesity was started for health professionals last year by the GPs’ clinical commissioning group at the Professional Development centre in Bethnal Green.
Poplar MP Jim Fitzpatrick spoke of being “locked in a battle with childhood obesity” back in 2013 at a British Heart Foundation summit held at the Commons.
He called for a curb on junk food TV marketing to protect youngsters and for help for parents to make better choices about meals at home. One-in-four East End 10-year-olds were obese that year.
Around 100 children were fighting diabetes in the East End 10 years ago when a programme was started targeted at the Bengali community which had a higher-than-average number of cases. Dr Sam Everington who ran an obesity clinic in Bromley-by-Bow called it “a major epidemic”.