Local Government Association on ‘urgency’ of tackling childhood obesity

Izzi Seccombe Local Government Association childhood obesity
LGA's Izzi Seccombe: One of the biggest public health challenges
16/08/2017 - 10:52
A 14% rise in the number of children and teenagers being treated for Type 2 diabetes has prompted the Local Government Association (LGA) to describe the situation as a ‘hugely disturbing trend’.

“This is an important reminder of one of the biggest public health challenges the country faces, ahead of the first anniversary of the publication of the Government’s childhood obesity plan,” says Izzi Seccombe, chair of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board.

“This emphasises the urgency of stepping up efforts to tackle child obesity, with the devastating consequences already being seen at an early age.”

According to figures for 2015/16 from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, 621 children and young people under the age of 25 received care for Type 2 diabetes from Paediatric Diabetes Units in England and Wales, of which 78.5% were also obese. Fifteen children with Type 2 were aged between five and nine.

This is an increase of 76 on the number for 2014/15.

However as these figures only relate to those treated in paediatric practice, and not for example, primary care, the actual number of young people with Type 2 diabetes is likely to be even higher.

While not every case of Type 2 diabetes is as a result of being overweight and obese, it is the single greatest risk factor.

Seccombe adds: “The LGA is calling on the Government to – as a minimum – reverse the cuts to councils’ public health budgets of £531m – a reduction of nearly 10% over a five year period.

“This has impaired councils’ ability to tackle childhood obesity and prevent associated conditions such as Type 2 diabetes from developing in the first place.

“Councils also say more needs to be done to reach out to black and minority ethnic groups, where there is a disproportionately higher number of children and young people with Type 2 diabetes.

“Nearly half of those receiving care for the condition from Paediatric Diabetes Units were black or Asian.”

Dr Justin Warner, clinical lead for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health’s National Paediatric Diabetes Audit, adds: “Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition and can lead  to long-term health problems such as vision loss and blindness, kidney failure and stroke.

“The good news is, it’s largely preventable – but the single biggest risk factor for children developing Type 2 diabetes is being overweight.

“Increasing numbers of children and young people in the UK are overweight or obese, so it’s no wonder we’re seeing children younger and younger being treated for Type 2 diabetes.

“Children and young people from Black and Minority Ethnic groups are also at higher risk of developing the condition, with more girls than boys being diagnosed and living in socially deprived area being a risk factor both for obesity and developing Type 2 diabetes.”

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