Hartlepool’s obesity problem under the spotlight as quarter of young children overweight

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HARTLEPOOL’S obesity problem was going under the spotlight today at a major conference.

Keynote speakers were due in town to hammer out the issue at the Centre of Excellence for Teaching & Learning (CETL) in Brierton Lane.

More than six hours of talks were planned in a town where a quarter of all reception age children are carrying excess weight.

Hartlepool’s Health and Wellbeing Board has identified childhood obesity as its top priority as part of its ongoing work to tackle health inequalities in the town.

The meeting is called Healthy Weight, Healthy Life – Tackling Obesity in Hartlepool.

Statistics show that in Hartlepool, around a quarter of four and five-year-old children are carrying excess weight and this rises to nearly four-in-ten children in Year 6 (10 and 11 year-olds).

Keynote speakers include Dr Louisa Ells, reader in Public Health Obesity and specialist advisor to Public Health England, Emma Mead from the Health and Social Care Institute and Steven Carter who is Hartlepool Council’s health improvement practitioner.

Children and young people representing the town’s school and colleges will also play a key role by taking part in the event.

Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher, who is the chair of the Hartlepool Health & Wellbeing Board, said: “Nothing is more important to us than the health and wellbeing of people in Hartlepool.

“It’s a well-known fact that obesity can contribute to diabetes, coronary heart disease and other illnesses, and the Health & Wellbeing Board decided late last year that tackling childhood obesity would be the top priority for the next twelve months.”

Coun Akers-Belcher said the conference would “provide the opportunity to explore in depth the issues that can lead to obesity and what measures we can put in place throughout the town to address it.”

As part of the campaign to help get across key health messages to local people, the Board has already agreed to embrace Change4Life.

Change4Life is a nationwide initiative led by Public Health England and it aims to help everyone, but especially children, to eat well, move more and live longer.