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Blood test could predict obesity levels in children

Scientists at the University of Southampton have found that a simple blood test, which can read DNA, could be used to predict obesity levels in children.

Researchers used the test to assess the levels of epigenetic switches in the PGC1a gene – a gene that regulates fat storage in the body.

The Southampton team found that the test, when carried out on children at five years old, differentiates between children with a high body fat and those with a low body fat when they were older.

Results showed that a rise in DNA methylation levels of 10 per cent at five years was associated with up to 12 per cent more body fat at 14 years. Results were independent of the child’s gender, their amount of physical activity and their timing of puberty.

It can be difficult to predict when children are very young, which children will put on weight or become obese. It is important to know which children are at risk because help, such as suggestions about their diet, can be offered early and before they start to gain weight. The results of our study provide further evidence that being overweight or obese in childhood is not just due to lifestyle, but may also involve important basic processes that control our genes. However, our findings now need to be tested in larger groups of children.”

– Dr Graham Burdge, of the University of Southampton
National

Areas of England with the lowest obesity levels

Public Health England has released England-wide data of the country's obesity crisis. Here are the areas of England with the lowest overweight and obesity levels.

  • In Kensington and Chelsea 45.9% of adults are obese or overweight.
  • Tower Hamlets 47.2%
  • Richmond upon Thames 47.6%
  • Hackney 48.7%
  • Brighton and Hove 49.2%
  • Hammersmith and Fulham 49.7%
  • Camden 50.1%
  • Lambeth 51.8%
  • Wandsworth 52.2%
  • Westminster 52.6%

Read more: England's most overweight areas

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National

England's most overweight areas

New England-wide data released by Public Health England has revealed that 63.8% of adults are now obese or overweight. A breakdown of local authorities has also been released.

  • The fattest local authority area is Copeland in west Cumbria, where 75.9% of people are overweight or obese, followed by:
  • Doncaster 74.4%
  • East Lindsey in Lincolnshire 73.8%
  • Ryedale in North Yorkshire 73.7%
  • Sedgemoor in Somerset 73.4%
  • Gosport in Hampshire 72.9%
  • Castle Point in Essex 72.8%
  • Bolsover in Derbyshire 72.5%
  • County Durham 72.5%
  • Milton Keynes 72.5%

Shaping up for the New Year

Childhood obesity is one of the most serious global public health challenges for the 21st century. But obese children and adolescents are at an increased risk of developing various health problems, and are also more likely to become obese adults.

So now groundbreaking work in Brighton & Hove is helping children stay within recommended weight levels, and the city is bucking the national trend. Charlotte Wilkins has the story.

The next, free, Family Shape Up programme starts on Thursday 23rd January, 5.30 - 7pm.

Sessions run every Thursday for 12 weeks. There's a taster session on Thursday 16th January from 5.30 - 6.30pm at the Brighthelm centre, North Road, Brighton.

For more information go to [http://www.bhfood.org.uk/

family-shape-up](http://www.bhfood.org.uk/family-shape-up)

New idea to help people lose weight

Swale and Medway are both trying to tackle the problems of obesity. As a percentage of the population, they have the third and fourth highest numbers of overweight people in England. Around one in three people living there are overweight.

Now a charity in Kent is calling on people to swap their knife and fork, with a spade and fork, and get digging on an allotment and start growing their own fruit and veg. It's aiming to help hundreds of people lose weight. Nashreen Issa reports.

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