Carrick had ‘highest levels of childhood obesity’

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Carrickfergus had the highest levels of primary one children presenting as obese in the 2014-2015 period, recent figures have found.

The update was provided as part of a report on the soon-to-conclude Hearty Lives project, presented to members of Mid and East Antrim Council’s Operational Committee last Monday night.

Looking at figures in the Northern Health and Social Care Trust area, the report found that Carrick had the highest levels of childhood obesity at 8.1 percent. This compared to 4.4 percent in Ballymena and 4.7 percent in Larne.

“Whilst the percentage of primary one children in Ballymena and Larne presenting as overweight is above the NI average, Carrickfergus has the highest levels of children presenting as obese. This demonstrates a clear need for further work and early interventions in order to prevent these children, and future children, from becoming obese adults and developing the many life-limiting health conditions so often associated with obesity,” the report added.

“All children in an area may not have been measured and so coverage may not be complete. In some areas, the percentages are based on very small figures and so caution is advised.”

A £250,000 three-year project funded by the British Heart Foundation, Hearty Lives is due to wind up in June.

The project is managed by the Northern Health and Social Care Trust and was developed in partnership with the legacy Carrickfergus Council and the Public Health Agency.

It targets Carrickfergus, Whitehead and Greenisland communities, supporting the development of new and effective ways to prevent obesity, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and improve heart health.

To date over 5,700 people have benefited from project interventions and over 900 health professionals have engaged with the project, councillors heard. After BHF indicated that no further funding will be available to continue Hearty Lives after June, a final event for the project is being planned focusing on the good practice and resources developed throughout the project.