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Findings of the Guernsey Child Measurement Programme 2023

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Wednesday 03 April 2024

A report released today highlights that excess weight among Primary-school age children in the Bailiwick shows signs of stabilisation among Year 1 and a reduction in Year 5 children.

A report released today highlights that excess weight among Primary-school age children in the Bailiwick shows signs of stabilisation among Year 1 and a reduction in Year 5 children.

The Guernsey Child Measurement Programme (GCMP) began in 2013 and since then the heights and weights of children in school Years 1 and 5 have been recorded annually during the spring term, then analysed to allow population-level surveillance of weight status in children aged 5/6 years and 9/10 years. The only exception was in 2021 where children were not measured due to the Bailiwick being in the second lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The Public Health Services report details the results obtained from the tenth measurement year, 2023. These latest measurements were taken in Spring 2023 and included children in public and private primary schools.

Key findings of the report include:

Jenny Cataroche, Head of Health Intelligence, said:

'We are grateful to our schools who have helped make the programme an accepted part of the school year and, most of all, to our Year 1 and Year 5 children for taking part.  Results from 2023 are very encouraging because they show a stable rate of excess weight among Year 1s and a reduction in excess weight among Year 5 children.  While the absolute levels of excess weight among primary school-aged children are still concerning, the change over time — or rather the stabilisation and reduction over time which we are now seeing —is a positive sign.  When fewer children live with excess weight it means fewer children will be at risk of conditions that could negatively affect their health.' 

Dr Nicola Brink, Director of Public Health, added:

'The Guernsey Child Measurement Programme is an important assessment of the health of our children and I am encouraged by the 2023 results which show a levelling off or reduction of the proportion of children with excess weight. Stabilisation is the first step towards the goal of having more of our young people living healthier, active lives.  If sustained in the medium-to-long term this change will have significant positive effects on both our population and our health system.' 

Dr Simon Sebire, Chief Executive of the Health Improvement Commission, said:

'The recent findings of the Guernsey Child Measurement Programme are very encouraging. Childhood overweight and obesity are linked to a range of physical and mental health conditions as well as a higher likelihood of having excess weight as an adult. The drivers of body weight are complex, and we know that some people are more susceptible to developing obesity than others.  Our food and physical activity environments play an important role in the development of obesity and ill health.  Therefore, to maintain or improve on the current trends the Bailiwick needs to prioritise a range of preventative actions, working across sectors to create a better, healthier food environment, that can positively shape children's and families' everyday opportunities to access healthy food. Enabling regular physical activity is also vital. The Health Improvement Commission's work on this spans Early Years, schools, commercial and community settings and we are very grateful to everyone who works with us by recognising the role that they play in creating the conditions that shape our children's long-term health. The trends emerging from the Guernsey Childhood Measurement Programme are a sign that this approach is having a positive impact.'

The full report can be found under the 'Other reports published by the Medical Officer of Health' menu at Public Health Intelligence - States of Guernsey (gov.gg)

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