Childhood obesity connected to health inequalities, says think tank

Children grow up obese due to health inequalities, says think tankSignificant health inequalities have led to thousands of young children in England living overweight or obese.

New research analysing the state of health across the country suggests up to one in 12 cases could be dodged if health access was improved in England’s most deprived areas.

Undertaken by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), it reports that the number of overweight or obese children could be reduced by hundreds of thousands if healthcare was better provided.

Significant discrepancies

Barking and Dagenham had the highest rate, with double the number of obese or overweight children compared to areas with the lowest rate – Richmond upon Thames.

Child poverty and early years development levels are both earmarked as statistically significant when it comes to childhood obesity.

Out of the 1.4 million 10 and 11 year olds across England, statistics show that around 35% are overweight or obese.

This amounts to around 488,000 children.

If overall health outcomes matched those where they are currently best, the report suggests we would see:

  • An increase in England’s life expectancy by two years
  • An increase in the average healthy life expectancy of 3.3 years
  • A drop in depression prevalence from 11% to 8%
  • A decrease in childhood overweight and obesity prevalence from 35% to 32%.

Bettering health outcomes

As a result, the think tank is calling for a number of changes to the UK system.

This includes topping up the amount of NHS funding in the country’s most deprived areas.

It also suggests introducing a public health budget in England, similar to the wellbeing budget in New Zealand. According to the report this would guarantee funding and opportunity for policy and also investment decisions, based on bettering health.

You can read the full report here.


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