AN ENTIRE generation could be ‘destroyed’ by a diet of junk food and sugary drinks, a Winyates doctor has warned.
Dr Rachel Pryke, who is also clinical lead for nutrition at the Royal College of General Practitioners, has called for an emergency task force to be set up to tackle the rising epidemic of childhood obesity.
In an open letter to the chief medical officer for England, Dr Pryke from Winyates Health Centre and other GPs have warned the NHS would be completely overwhelmed if the trend continued.
“The nutritional patterns laid out in early years can define a child’s health for life and the stark fact is that overweight children are being set up for a lifetime of sickness and health problems.” Dr Pryke said.
“We cannot allow our young people to become malnourished, squandering their childhood and vitality hunched over computer consoles and gorging on junk food.
“We have reached a state of emergency with childhood obesity and the current threat to public health is most definitely ‘severe’.
“We need the right infrastructure, investment and knowledge to bring about the huge changes that are necessary if we are able to protect the next generation. A national child obesity action group will allow us to call up a ‘battalion’ of health professionals to lead the fight for our children’s health.”
According to the latest figures from the National Childhood Measurement Programme about a third of ten and 11-year-olds in Redditch are overweight or obese with just under a quater of Reception class children classed the same.
The number of obese adults in the borough has increased from 23.9 per cent to 28.6 per cent in the last six years – more than 17,000 people – and with it has come a rise in related conditions including diabetes.
About 80 to 85 per cent of Type 2 diabetes cases are related to obesity, and according to the latest health and well-being profile in Redditch there are about 2,894 of those in the borough.
Obesity is already costing the county’s health service an estimated £80million a year.
As part of a strategy to cut obesity rates, Worcestershire’s Health and Wellbeing Board is focusing on encouraging people to take more responsibility for their own and their family’s weight, to take exercise and eat healthily.