Headlines: December 12th, 2008

The Change4Life campaign, due to launch next month, aims to bring about a lifestyle revolution involving thousands of local organisations and charities which will help mums, dads and families eat well, move more and live longer. Just how dire the situation has become is revealed in new figures which show that almost one in four 4-5 year olds and one in three 10-11 year olds are overweight or obese.

Obesity is one of the biggest public health challenges and without any action 90 per cent of today’s children could be overweight or obese by 2050, leaving them at risk from serious illnesses such as heart disease or diabetes. Health effects of excess weight are increasingly apparent in children. The incidence of both type 2 diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease used to be rare in children but is now increasing. 20,000 children under 15 now have diabetes.

Change4Life will provide everyone with the information and support they need to improve their lives. From January onwards, families will start to see new local initiatives providing support, help and advice to help them live more healthily. There will be healthy food promotions and recipes in supermarkets, walking campaigns, cycling groups or free swimming for under 16s and over 60s. This will be backed up by a major advertising campaign.

The National Child Measurement Programme, which provided today’s statistics about overweight children, has been running since 2005. It will continue to track the overweight epidemic and engage with parents and health professionals about the importance of healthy living and healthy eating.