Guernsey Press

Public health chief encouraged by child measurement findings

A QUARTER of Year 5 children in Guernsey are overweight, the latest Guernsey Child Measurement Programme report has found.

Year 5: Comparison of results from the Guernsey child measurement programme with those from Jersey and the UK programmes.

But it is the lowest number of overweight children since the programme began a decade ago.

One in six Year 1 children were also found to be overweight, with the five- and six-year-old overweight numbers looking stable.

Director of Public Health Dr Nicola Brink welcomed the findings, particularly for the nine and 10-year-olds.

‘I am encouraged by the 2023 results which show a levelling off or reduction of the proportion of children with excess weight,’ she said.

‘Stabilisation is the first step towards the goal of having more of our young people living healthier, active lives. If sustained in the medium-to-long term this change will have significant positive effects on both our population and our health system.’

When the study first started in 2013, 29% of Year 5 children were found to be overweight or obese. This spiked at 31% in 2014 and has risen and fallen in recent years.

But these latest figures show that 25.9% were above a healthy weight.

This is broken down into 11.4% classed as overweight, and 14.5% as obese.

Obesity levels have remained relatively stable at around 15% for the age group, but the number of those overweight has slight dropped over the years.

Head of health intelligence Jenny Cataroche said the findings were encouraging.

‘They show a stable rate of excess weight among Year 1s and a reduction in excess weight among Year 5 children,’ she said.

‘While the absolute levels of excess weight among primary school-aged children are still concerning, the change over time – or rather the stabilisation and reduction over time which we are now seeing – is a positive sign.

‘When fewer children live with excess weight it means fewer children will be at risk of conditions that could negatively affect their health.’

English data has shown weight problems are more prevalent in deprived areas.

The local report looked at the weight of children at fee-paying and non-fee paying schools, which showed a marked difference.

Those at fee-paying schools are less likely to be overweight, with about 17% being overweight or obese, compared with about 28% at non-fee paying schools.

The Guernsey child measurement programme began in 2013. Since then the height and weight of children in school Years 1 and 5 have been recorded annually during the spring term, then analysed to allow population-level surveillance of weight status in children aged 5/6 years and 9/10 years.

1,152 children were measured across the two age groups for this study and 246 of them were found to be overweight or obese.