Children in East Sussex are being encouraged to get going this summer in a bid to drive down soaring obesity rates.
A fifth (20%) of four to five year olds in the county and nearly one in three (31%) 10 to 11 year olds are overweight or obese1. Less than half (47%) take part in three hours or more of exercise each week2.
With the associated health risks and the prediction that, if current trends continue, a quarter of children will be obese by 20503, East Sussex County Council is calling on young people and their parents and carers to take action and get active.
“Obesity can have a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of children and young people. We want to make sure that local children have the best possible start in life, and getting the right amount of exercise is a significant contributor to this,” said Cynthia Lyons, East Sussex County Council’s director of public health.
“These are worrying figures that need to be addressed,” county council leader Cllr Keith Glazier added. “Not only are there serious health issues associated with obesity but it could be costing the East Sussex economy as much as £70million4 a year.
“We want to buck the trend by encouraging as many children as possible to get involved in some of the activities available in East Sussex and start leading more active lives.”
Obesity is associated with a number of serious health conditions. People who are overweight or obese are more likely to suffer from heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes and 10 per cent of all cancer deaths among non-smokers are related to obesity.
Social stigmatisation and bullying are also common to children who are overweight and obese and can, in some cases lead to depression and other issues.
To encourage children to get active a series of free, one off activity sessions are being held in West Park, Uckfield on Wednesday 21 August, at Alexandra Park Tennis Courts, Hastings on Wednesday 21 August and Wednesday 28 August at Hollington Football Club in St Leonards-on-Sea on Thursday 22 August and at Western Road Recreation Ground in Hailsham on Wednesday 28 August.
“We are keen to encourage as many children and possible to take part in these free events in the hope that it may inspire them to take up regular exercise and get involved with an activity locally,” Cllr Glazier added.
Across East Sussex as a whole, 25% of adults are classified obese and 20% of 4-5 year-olds and 31% of 10-11 year olds are classified as overweight or obese1.
1 Health Profiles 2012
2 Child Health Profiles 2012
3 Foresight (2007) Tackling Obesities: Future Choices
4 The Foresight report Tackling Obesities: Future Choices (2007) estimated that, nationally in 2002, those who were overweight or obese cost the economy £7 billion in treatment, benefits, loss of earnings and reduced productivity. Extrapolating these costs into the local economy shows the cost to East Sussex could as much as £70million a year.