Wednesday 10 July 2019
New data indicates that the level of unhealthy excess weight amongst children of primary school age in the Bailiwick remains a concern.
The 2019 Guernsey Child Measurement Programme (GCMP) Report shows that 17% of children in Year 1 (aged 5-6) have an overweight or obese weight status, increasing to 29% of children in Year 5 (9-10 year olds). This is similar to findings from previous years.
For the first time since the measurement programme began, it has also been possible to anonymously track children's Year 1 measurement to their Year 5 measurement. The findings show that the majority of children who have a healthy weight status in Year 1 go on to have the same status in Year 5. However, the same is true for children who have an obese weight status in Year 1, with three-quarters retaining that weight status when measured four years later in Year 5.
Dr Nicola Brink, Director of Public Health, noted:
"I continue to be encouraged by the high rate of participation in this important initiative. However, these results emphasise the need for concerted action to enable children to achieve or maintain a healthy weight as they grow. This is of fundamental importance to the future health and wellbeing of Islanders, as reducing obesity will save lives. The recent formation of the Health Improvement Commission for Guernsey and Alderney is a welcome step to supporting a healthier weight in our islands and I look forward to working with them."
The 2019 GCMP Report has been welcomed by the new Health Improvement Commission for Guernsey and Alderney, with the data providing valuable information to help guide local action.
Dr Simon Sebire, Chief Executive of the Health Improvement Commission said:
"Childhood overweight and obesity can cause social, psychological and physical health problems. The report points strongly to the importance of prevention and the need to work alongside our community to support children from an early age. To do this, it is essential that we take action across the whole system to enable healthy nutrition and physical activity.
Since its formation in October last year, The Health Improvement Commission has developed new partnerships across the community to help create or enhance projects aimed at supporting healthy nutrition and physical activity in early years children. These projects will benefit weight status and the physical and mental wellbeing of children".
Lucy Whitman, who leads the Healthy Weight workstream at the Commission said:
"We are working with a number of nursery and pre-school settings and with parent groups, on areas such as snacking, portion size and studying lunchboxes in this age group - what goes in lunchboxes and, importantly, what the children eat from those lunchboxes. Alongside this, we are piloting a new programme of support for physical activity in early years settings."
This work aligns with the extensive actions being undertaken by primary schools to support healthy nutrition and physical activity. Projects under the Commission's Be Active Forum, The Daily Mile and initiatives with secondary and tertiary education and the Youth Commission are all also under way.
Mrs Whitman further added:
"The Commission cannot act alone. To succeed, our actions need to be delivered against a backdrop of supportive policy, from health and education to environment and economic development, underlining the value of the States' decision on Health in All Policies."