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Tackling Childhood Obesity Together​

'Tackling Childhood Obesity Together', Merton's annual public health report, sets out the challenges of helping more children in Merton reach and maintain a healthy weight.

In Merton, an estimated 4,500 children aged between four and 11 are overweight or obese. One in five pupils entering Reception Year is overweight or obese and this increases to one in three leaving primary school in Year 6.

The report highlights that parents may not even recognise that they or their children are obese due to a shift in society's perception of what is a healthy body size and shape. But being overweight or obese puts children at increased risk of developing long-term or chronic illnesses including diabetes, arthritis and breathing difficulties.

The report, from Merton Council's Director of Public Health Dr Dagmar Zeuner, also found that the places where people live work and play can have just as much impact on reducing childhood obesity as personal lifestyle choices.

Dr Andrew Murray, Chair of Merton Clinical Commissioning Group welcomed the report's focus on working together to tackle the major public health challenge of childhood obesity in the borough and its recognition that a lot is already being done to address the issue.

Dr Murray said:

"As a local GP and the Chair of Merton CCG, I see first-hand the consequences of childhood obesity and know that we need to work together to tackle the complex range of influences on obesity in a joined up way.

"The NHS has an important role to play and we must continue to work collaboratively with communities and partners across Merton to co-create sustainable preventative solutions.

"Our work to develop a new model of health and wellbeing in the east of the borough will be a key focus in the coming years."

The NHS Five Year Forward View states that the future health of millions of children will depend on a radical upgrade in prevention and public health, and highlights the need to back action on obesity.

Tackling childhood obesity is a priority for the local Health and Wellbeing Board and the report complements the Child Healthy Weight Action Plan being implemented in Merton.