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Saturday 24th February 2018

Obesity serious threat to children

19th September 2007

The Health Protection Agency has warned that climate change and obesity threaten to undermine current efforts to improve children’s environmental health.


In a new report, the HPA looks at a range of initiatives and policies in place to protect children from environmental hazards, such as pollution traffic injuries, and infections.

The Agency, which is leading the UK development of a Children’s Environment and Health Action Plan for Europe (CEHAPE), fears children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of environmental hazards, with those aged 0-14 making up a third of all GP consultations.

CEHAPE, which was begun by the Department of Health through the World Health Organisation in 2004, has four priority areas: water and sanitation; injuries, obesity, and physical activity; air pollution; and exposure to chemical, physical, and biological hazards.

While acknowledging that death rates and illness among children have fallen significantly across the UK as a result of government policies, it fears rates of skin cancer in children are set to rise as a result of climate change. It also highlights obesity as a key area of concern and one of the most serious public health challenges in Europe and the UK.

In 2004, around one in three UK children aged 2-15 were overweight compared to fewer than one in 10 before 1990.

Increased car journeys, the introduction of energy dense foods, larger portion sizes, and the popularity of computer games have made the situation worse. The report says more could be done to improve the environment in schools and homes to boost children’s health.


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