Children should be weighed up to age 18

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CHILDREN and young people up to 18 should have their weight and body mass index (BMI) recorded every year, says a report by child health experts. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health say England is falling behind other countries on obesity, mental health and infant deaths, BBC news reported on Monday. It predicts rising health problems by 2030 without changes in policy. An NHS England spokeswoman said the report provided “useful context” for its long-term funding plan.
Currently, children in England are measured at primary school, up to the ages of 10 and 11, but not after that. The report, Child Health in 2030 in England, says more needs to be done to halt obesity. It compared different aspects of children and young people’s health in England with 14 other European Union countries plus Australia, Canada and Norway.
The report found England has poorer health outcomes than the average across those 18 countries and, based on recent trends, is likely to fall further behind them over the next decade. The report highlighted that high mortality for one to 19-year-olds in England and Wales for respiratory conditions like asthma and epilepsy, higher proportions of young mothers and smoking during pregnancy, low rates of breastfeeding compared to most EU countries, mental health problems set to increase by 2030, a third of boys living in the poorest areas of England will be obese by 2030, A&E attendances for children and young people are high and set to rise in the next 12 years.
And it acknowledges that the government’s childhood obesity plan is likely to “help to reverse current obesity trends”. The report makes a series of recommendations, including extending the current asthma register to include children from five to 18 years old, recording the weight, height and BMI of all children two to 18 years old on an electronic growth chart once a year, making the “red book”, a child’s health record, available online, publishing information on how much funding is allocated for children and young people’s physical and mental health services and how it is spent, developing a children and young people’s health strategy for England, investing more in school nursing and health visiting services and organizing local child mental health systems so that they are delivered as close as possible to home. Prof Russell Viner, report author and president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “This report clearly identifies the danger on the horizon – but trends shown here are not inevitable.

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