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Obesity is killing Haringey's children

PUBLISHED: 17:00 04 June 2009 | UPDATED: 16:14 07 September 2010

Robyn Rosen ONE in six children in Haringey are fighting obesity, the Broadway can reveal. A report published this week found that 10 per cent of children in reception year and 23 per cent of Year 6 children in the borough are at risk of obesity. This co

Robyn Rosen

ONE in six children in Haringey are fighting obesity, the Broadway can reveal.

A report published this week found that 10 per cent of children in reception year and 23 per cent of Year 6 children in the borough are at risk of obesity.

This compares with the England average of 9.6 per cent in reception and 18.3 per cent in Year 6.

The news comes as the council confessed it was yet to meet its own targets for healthy schools.

Only 76 per cent of Haringey schools have achieved Healthy School Status this year, compared with the council's target of 85 per cent.

The status is given to schools which promote healthy eating, physical activity and emotional well-being. Schools that have not achieved this status include Fortismere in Muswell Hill and Highgate Wood in Crouch End.

Muswell Hill councillor and Lib Dem children's spokeswoman, Gail Engert, said: "These figures show that Haringey's children are caught up in the growing and widespread problem of childhood obesity.

"Obesity can blight a child's life, not only damaging their health, but also through the bullying that can result.

"The council must do all it can promote healthy eating and exercise in schools to combat these problems.

"But on recent evidence Haringey's council is failing to reach even its own targets for healthy schools - a worrying trend that must be turned around if another dip in the children's health and wellbeing is to be avoided."

Pratik Sufi, consultant and laparoscopic surgeon at the Whittington Hospital, said that the number of children having gastric surgery has increased in recent years.

"People who are obese have a 13-year lower life expectancy and higher risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, strokes, and heart attacks and consequently they are a burden to society," he said.

"Numbers are high in children because their lifestyles are changing. They are walking less and spending more time in front of the TV and play station.

"There is also more fast food and unhealthy food available."

But Cllr Lorna Reith, Haringey's school boss, said that the borough recognises the importance of preventing obesity and offers a variety of services including ensuring schools provide physical activities, healthy meals and health education.

"Schools have an important role to play in tackling obesity, which is why we have introduced our healthy schools programme with almost seven out of 10 schools already achieving national healthy school status," she said.

"The programme helps schools to promote healthier eating and regular exercise, including at least two hours PE, regular break time and after-school activities and growing their own fruit and vegetables.

"All our schools also have a school travel plan, encouraging pupils to walk or cycle to school."

Marianne Munro has been deputy leader of the 345 Preschool, for children aged two to four, in Tetherdown for 14 years.

"I'm very shocked by those figures. At this age, children need at least half an hour of physical activity a day.

"We ensure our children are very active, eat healthily and are aware of what is healthy."

The report, entitled Weighty Matters, was published by the NHS adviser, the London Health Observatory.

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