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Child Health

Volume 450: debated on Tuesday 24 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the (a) levels of obesity and (b) general health of schoolchildren in Northern Ireland in the last three years. (96131)

The height and weight of children are recorded as part of the Primary One health appraisal conducted by the school nurse. Levels of obesity can be calculated from this information, which is recorded in the child health system for Northern Ireland. The following table sets out the levels of obesity among children aged four and a half to five and a half for the last three years for which data are available.

Children aged four and a half to five and a half years classified as obese

Percentage

2002-03

5.6

2003-04

5.7

2004-05

5.5

Source:

Child Health System (NI)

Results from the 2005 Health and Social Well- Being Survey, which collected height and weight measurements of all respondents aged two and over, will be available later this year and will provide a more comprehensive assessment of obesity levels in children.

Health visitors and school nurses assess the general health and development of children as part of the Child Health Surveillance programme. The surveillance programme includes a general health assessment in the first year of primary school and in the first year of post-primary school, as well as screening tests and targeted reviews.

The Young Persons Behaviour and Attitudes (YBAS) survey provides an overview of children’s health and well-being and of health determinants, such as diet, physical activity, smoking and alcohol consumption. The last YBAS survey, which involved almost 7,000 young people aged 11 to 16 living in Northern Ireland, was conducted in 2003 and is scheduled to be repeated in 2007. The 2003 YBAS survey reported that over 88 per cent. of children considered themselves to be quite healthy or very healthy with just under 12 per cent. considering themselves to be not very healthy. 16 per cent. of schoolchildren declared that they had either a long-standing illness or disability that had troubled them for a period of time or was likely to affect them in the future.