Obese Sunderland child taken into care

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AN obese youngster on Wearside is among those to be taken into care amid fears about their weight.

Figures from councils revealed the obesity of several children across the UK had been cited as a contributory factor in the decision to take them into care.

Sunderland City Council refused to comment on the individual case in the city, but stressed a child’s obesity would not be the only reason for removing them from their family.

Meg Boustead, Sunderland City Council’s head of safeguarding, said: “Obesity is a national problem and it’s something we would always seek to tackle in the first instance through healthy eating and exercise, working closely with the families of those involved.

“Legal action is only ever taken as a last resort, and obesity would not be the sole reason, but one of a number of other factors taken into account, before any child would be taken into care.”

The local authority figures, revealed in a Freedom of Information request, also included a five-year-old in Manchester who was more than four stone overweight.

Earlier this year health experts said obesity is a major public health challenge and could lead to a generation of children dying before their parents.

A quarter of youngsters on Wearside were overweight when they started school in 2009/10, with 11.2 per cent classed as obese, according to the National Childhood Measurement Programme 2010.

This was above the national average of 23.1 per cent and by Year 6, 36.7 per cent of Sunderland children were overweight, compared with 33.3 per cent nationally.

The national rate of childhood obesity is set to rise with experts predicting that by the year 2050, 63 per cent of children will be obese.

Overweight children are at far higher risk of heart disease, strokes, diabetes, asthma and cancer in later life and health officials believe obesity will cost the Health Service £6.3billion a year by 2015.

A City Hospitals Sunderland spokesman said: “The importance of a healthy lifestyle – lots of exercise and less static pastimes such as computer games and watching TV – and a balanced diet cannot be overestimated.”