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  1. ITV Report

One in four children in Wales are overweight or obese

Credit: PA

One in four children are overweight or obese, according to the 2018 Child Measurement Programme run by Public Health Wales.

The programme records the heights and weights of children in their reception year of primary school.

The results of the programme show the percentage of obese four and five-year-old children in Wales has increased over the past two years.

Merthyr Tydfil has highest prevalence of obesity where 17.5% of children are obese.

This is more than double the local authority area with the lowest prevalence, the Vale of Glamorgan at 7.8%.

Public Health Wales says the programme aims to help parents of under-fives to recognise whether their child is of a healthy weight. It is emphasising the importance of drinking less sugary drinks.

The number of children that are obese at the age of four to five years old has been going in the wrong direction over the past two years. In particular, over the last two years the level of obesity has shown a statistically significant increase. While it is too soon to see an overall trend, there is an increasing gap in obesity levels between the most and least disadvantaged areas in Wales.

– Linda Bailey, Consultant Lead for the Child Measurement Programme

We are concerned that parents and professionals may find it difficult to recognise when children are overweight as it is more commonplace than it once was.

Our research shows that parents are more likely to identify children who are a healthy weight as underweight. This may give them false reassurance that their overweight or obese child is okay. Our hope is through a variety of initiatives throughout the year we can go someway to change this perception.

Being overweight or obese can have a direct effect on children's wellbeing - low self-esteem, anxiety and depression. Obesity can also lead to a range of other health problems in adulthood such a type II diabetes.

Tackling childhood obesity not only prevents adverse health consequences, but prevention is so much easier than treatment for the child. We know that every parent wants the best for their children, and we want to give them all the tools and support to do just that.

– Natalie Field, Public Health Wales