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Postcode lottery for child health

One in every 10 children in the North East are starting school obese

 

According to a report by the National Children’s Bureau this amounts to over 3,000 children a year.

A recent study by the charity suggests that obesity and tooth decay amongst under-fives could be prevented if more attention was paid to their health to start with.

The report, Poor Beginnings, said poor early health was not inevitable for children growing up in deprived areas.

Anna Feuchtwang, chief executive of the National Children’s Bureau, said the question was “whether England is becoming a nation of two halves”

She added: “Work is urgently needed to understand what local health services can now do to lessen the impact of living in a deprived area.

“Government must make it a national mission over the next five years to ensure that the health and development of the first five years of a child’s life is improved.”

The study, which analysed data from Public Health England, found 51 per cent of five-year-olds in Leicester have tooth decay compared with 9.5 per cent of five-year-olds in West Sussex.

It said a child on the Isle of Wight is more than four times more likely to be admitted to hospital with an injury than a child in central London.

The organisation claims that if under-fives in the North West enjoyed the same health and development as those in the South East, more than 15,000 cases of ill-health could be prevented every year.

This includes of 11,000 five-year-olds suffering tooth decay per year and 2,500 hospital admissions.

From next month, councils in England will take on responsibility for young children’s public health services.

The research predicted that, overall, if five-year-olds living in the most deprived fifth of councils had the same outcomes as those living in the wealthiest fifth, there would be almost 35,000 fewer cases of tooth decay.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: “This Government is committed to working closely across departments to give all children the best start in life.

“For example, we have increased the number of midwives and health visitors, and later this year our childhood obesity strategy will outline how we will help children lead healthier lives.

“The variations found in this report underline the need for devolving public health spending to local areas who know the issues which affect their population.”

 

The charity is calling on the Government to make improving services “a national mission”.

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