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Take part in the Great Weight Debate

Residents across Waltham Forest are being asked to have their say on what can be done to combat childhood obesity and encourage young people in the borough to lead healthier lives.

Waltham Forest Council has joined local authorities and NHS organisations across the capital to host the Great Weight Debate (GWD) - a London-wide conversation about childhood obesity.

The GWD aims to raise awareness of London’s childhood obesity epidemic and give members of the public a chance to share their views on childhood obesity and what can be done to tackle it.

As part of the campaign, the Council is encouraging all residents to complete a short online survey. In addition, a series of events have been planned between now and the end of November at which residents can join childcare and public health professionals to discuss childhood obesity in person at discussion groups and family-friendly creative events.

The Council’s public health team is working with schools and Children and Family Centres to ensure that they are involved in the conversation too. Whitehall Primary School, in Chingford, will be hosting a GWD event to gather pupil’s and parent’s views on what can be done to support healthy lifestyles in the borough while Walthamstow's The Lloyd Park Centre hosted a discussion with parents earlier this week, on Tuesday 18 October.

There will also be a GWD roadshow coming to Walthamstow town centre, outside The Mall, from 1pm-5pm on 25 October, which includes a ‘touring trailer’ where people can learn more about the campaign. Residents will be encouraged to complete the survey on iPads, make a pledge and given the chance to be filmed talking about childhood obesity and their ideas for how children can be helped to be healthier.

Cllr Ahsan Khan, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “This is a really important conversation for us all to have – we simply cannot pretend that childhood obesity is not an issue.

“By bringing as many people together to have an open and honest conversation, I hope we can come up with some really strong ideas that can be used to help us tackle the problem in the months and years ahead.”

NHS Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) supports the campaign. Dr Tonia Myers, CCG Clinical Director for Children and Maternity, added: “More than a fifth of children in our borough are already overweight when they start primary school.

“It is essential that we promote the benefits of healthy eating and increasing physical activity to families. To give children the best start, a healthy approach to life needs to begin in the home, and as early as possible.”

Being overweight or obese puts children at increased risk of a range of health problems, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, bone and joint problems and breathing difficulties. It can also affect a child’s mental well-being, lead to low self-esteem and absence from school.

The Council, alongside partners like Waltham Forest CCG, is working to promote the benefits of, and support people of all ages to eat healthily, lead active lives and manage their weight.

Work includes offering services from Waltham Forest’s Children and Family Centres to support new mothers to breastfeed where possible – but also supporting bottle feeding if that is the preference or where breast feeding doesn’t work out – and offering sessions around healthy eating and oral health.

The Council’s leisure centres, including the newly opened Waltham Forest Feel Good Centre, boast a wide range of sport and physical activity opportunities – and with the most green space of any London borough north of the Thames, there is plenty of outdoor space for families to take advantage of.

Many of Waltham Forest’s schools are already signed up to the Healthy Schools London scheme, which involves healthy eating, food growing and cooking, plus physical activity initiatives such as the Daily Mile, where children walk at least one mile every day.

On top of this, the Council was one of the first local authorities to use planning powers in order to prevent fast food outlets from opening within a 400m radius of schools or young people institutions/centres.

For more information about the work going on in Waltham Forest, see the Council’s Healthy Weight Strategy 2015 – 2020.

If you are concerned that your child might be underweight or overweight, speak to your GP, school nurse or health visitor.

Notes to editors

Obesity statistics:

  • London has more overweight and obese children than New York, Sydney, Paris or Madrid

  • The capital has a higher rate of childhood obesity than anywhere else in the country

  • One in five four to five year olds in London are overweight or obese

  • Two out of every five children in London are overweight or obese when they start secondary school

  • There are over 8,000 fried chicken shops in London 

  • The average chicken shop meal of chicken, chips and a drink contains 70% of an adult’s daily calories

  • On average, 11 to 18 year olds consume three times more than the recommended amount of sugar every day

  • Only 28 per cent of children in England achieve the recommended activity levels

  • The average child in England spends six hours a day in front of a screen

  • Tooth decay is most common reason why five to nine year-olds admitted to hospital.

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