Health chiefs in Wolverhampton are considering a package of measures aimed at helping to improve the health of children and young people in the city.

They are looking at expanding the range of activities which take place in schools and the local community as the city seeks to address high rates of obesity among residents, particularly children.

Members of the City of Wolverhampton Council's Health and Children, Young People and Families Scrutiny Panels held a joint inquiry earlier this month to review the activities currently taking place in Wolverhampton - and look at what more could be done.

They also heard about the extent of the problem, with latest data suggesting nearly 70% of adults in Wolverhampton are either overweight or obese. Equally worrying is that over a quarter of 4 to 5 year olds are overweight or obese, rising to around 40% of 10 to 11 year olds.

The inquiry found that a number of successful schemes were already in operation across the city, including 5* Families, a new healthy lifestyles programme offering advice about diet and lifestyle and exercise to parents and children, and various healthy eating and physical activity programmes such as Change4Life sports clubs within schools.

Members also heard about a series of sporting opportunities delivered by Partnerships and School Sport Wolverhampton (PASS) in the city's schools. Pass has also trained up more than 100 pupils from 30 local primaries as "ambassadors", who are leading fitness sessions for classmates.

Meanwhile, a number of schools hold their own regular fitness activities such as Northwood Park Primary's daily 15 minute workout and St Mary's Catholic Primary's 5 a day programme which encourages pupils to 5 lots of 5 minute activity bursts between lessons every day.

Local schools have also embraced Beat the Street, with nearly 80 schools across the city taking part in the unique walking, cycling and running game which is currently underway.

The inquiry also considered the impact of schemes which are in operation in other parts of the UK and which could be replicated here.

They include the Daily Mile pioneered by a school in Stirling, Scotland, which encourages pupils to complete 15 minutes of exercise every day, and SpaceTime, a programme through which teachers and other school staff are asked to share their hobbies and interests with pupils by providing lunchtime activities, including sport.

Councillor Sandra Samuels, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: "We have fundamental concerns about childhood obesity in Wolverhampton, with more than a quarter of our 10 year olds classed as obese, compared to just under a fifth nationally.

"At the same time, it is clear that young people and their families want to take part in healthy activities - you only need to look at the success of activities which take place in our schools, or Beat the Street and our 5* Families programme, to see how engaged they are.

"As a council, and as a city, we all want the best for our children and young people. We have already launched a Call to Action, encouraging individuals and organisations to come together to tackle the problem.

"It's not just about addressing poor diet, it's about increasing levels of physical activity and tackling other issues, like the easy availability of food and drink which are high in sugar and the proliferation of fast food outlets.

"We need to provide solutions which address all of these issues, and this inquiry has highlighted a number of options we need to consider."

A report is being prepared outlining the findings of the Scrutiny Review which will be presented to the City of Wolverhampton Council's Scrutiny Board next month.

  • released: Tuesday 22 March, 2016