Data from the NHS, revealing there were seven children who weighed more than 20 stone between 2006 and 2012, dramatically highlights the crucial role of qualified experts in tackling critical childhood obesity problems, according to the Register of Exercise Professionals.

OpenWorld News discovered the data – available under Freedom of Information laws – which was collated by the NHS as part of its annual child measurement programme.

The Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) stresses the immense health and economic implications of this data, and the need for accessible, practical education and support to overweight children, and their families. The Register’s Level 4 category helps consumers find professionals trained to the required standard to help children tackle obesity, while the Register’s category for Physical Activity for Children is specifically designed for under 16s.

Greg Small, REPs Operations Manager, said, “These shocking results highlight that childhood obesity needs urgent, nationwide action to prevent a future epidemic of obese adults, with increasing weight-related health problems. The implications of childhood obesity are social, physical and economic, with obesity and weight issues costing the NHS £5 billion each year. Our Level 4 professionals work in obesity and diabetes management, and have the necessary skills representing current best clinical practice, while REPs Level 2 includes a qualification for those working with young people.”

The National Child Measurement Programme measures the height and weight of children in reception and Year 6 annually. It was established in 2006, and is operated jointly by the Department of Health and the Department for Education.

NHS LogoThe past decade has seen a fourfold increase in the number of children and teenagers admitted to hospital with obesity-related conditions. Researchers at Imperial College London looked at NHS statistics for children and young people aged five to 19 where obesity was recorded in the diagnosis. In 2009 there were 3,806 children admitted to hospital for obesity-related conditions, compared with 872 in 2000.

“Ensuring children are engaged and enthusiastic about learning the correct exercise habits from an early age is the responsibility of accredited professionals. It’s imperative that parents have confidence in their children’s physical activity programmes, knowing that professional guidance is ensuring not only safe, health physical weight, but also the self-confidence to go through the teenage years as a happy, healthy weight-appropriate adult. We must ensure that the battle for our children’s health and future happiness is in the best possible professional hands and the work of the Register of Exercise Professionals is an important part of achieving that goal.”

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