CHILDREN in the Chester area are getting fatter as they go through school, a report has suggested.
Last year almost a quarter of reception class youngsters were an unhealthy weight and nine per cent were classed as obese.
But for those in their final year of junior school that rose to almost a third and 18 per cent respectively, according to Cheshire West and Chester Council's (CWaC) 2014 Public Health Report.
To tackle the borough's rising obesity problems, the council plans to launch a new health task force specifically aimed at five to 19-year-olds.
The new service will also focus on smoking, alcohol, exercise and drug abuse.
To be launched in January and run by Cheshire and Wirral NHS Partnership Trust, the body will involve a number of groups and will work through schools, youth clubs and community groups.
Fiona Reynolds, interim director of public health, said: “Excess weight and obesity in children often leads to excess weight in adults and this is recognised as a major cause of mortality and ill health.”
Similarly worrying figures are recorded in a section devoted to walking and cycling – two activities with major benefits for general health and climate change.
Only 28 per cent of adults in and around Chester are physically fit based on the advised 150 minutes of physical activity a week and it is estimated that about 140,000 people in West Cheshire – about 55 per cent – are completely inactive.
“If one third of car journeys under five miles were transferred to walking or cycling, it would save as many lives as all the other heart disease prevention measures put together” said Ms Reynolds.
The main priorities listed in the manifesto of the North West directors of public health include a television ban on the marketing of foods high in fat, sugar and salt before 9pm and a requirement on all schools to provide a minimum of one hour of physical activity, in line with UK guidelines for five to 18-years-olds.
More encouraging news revealed in the report is that last year 5,646 residents attended the NHS free Health Check – a 75 per cent increase on the previous year
The screening programme for those in the 40 – 74-years-old age group aims to prevent major health problems through early intervention with GPs delivering free health checks paid for by CWaC.
With 2,100 people in West Cheshire with a registered diagnosis of dementia, one of the greatest challenges faced by an ageing population is being met with an increase in ‘Dementia –Friendly Communities’ and champions in the Borough.
And the report highlights formation of the West Cheshire Dementia Action Alliance bringing together organisations, businesses and individuals working to support and improve quality of life for those coping with the disease.