New specialist clinics opened as part of pilot scheme to tackle obesity in children

Many vulnerable young people have struggled with weight gain during the coronavirus pandemic, the head of the NHS in England has said as the service launched new specialist clinics for children living with severe obesity.

Amanda Pritchard (pictured) said that the crisis has “shone a harsh light” on obesity.

The comments come as a pilot scheme was launched which will see 15 new specialist clinics care for severely obese children and their families.

About a thousand children aged two to 18 will benefit from the services each year, which will offer diet plans, mental health treatment and coaching.

They will have access to dietitians, psychologists, specialist nurses, social workers, youth workers and a children’s doctor.

The clinics have been been opened as part of a pilot scheme, which will be extended if it proves successful.

Obesity affects one in five children in the UK.

In England, the number of children living with obesity doubles from the start of primary school to the end of primary school.

Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of the NHS in England said: “The pandemic has shone a harsh light on obesity – with many vulnerable young people struggling with weight gain during the pandemic.

“Left unchecked, obesity can have other very serious consequences, ranging from diabetes to cancer.

“This early intervention scheme aims to prevent children and young people enduring a lifetime of ill-health.

“The NHS Long Term Plan committed to take more action to help children and young people with their physical and mental health and these new services are a landmark moment in efforts to help them lead longer, healthier and happier lives.”

The announcement comes as NHS Digital will publish the National Child Measurement Programme for England for the 2020-21 school year, which is expected to show if obesity prevalence is on the rise among children.

It analyses body mass index (BMI) classification rates by age, sex and ethnicity as well as geographic analyses, covering children in Reception and Year 6 in mainstream, state-maintained schools in England.

The previous report for 2019-20 had some stark findings, with obesity prevalence increasing from 9.7% in 2018-19 to 9.9% in 2019-20 in Reception years, while in Year 6 obesity prevalence increased from 20.2% in 2018-19 to 21.0% in 2019-20.

Last year, Boris Johnson launched the Government’s anti-obesity strategy and was said to have become passionate about the issue after his severe bout of Covid.

It included plans for a ban on TV and online adverts for food high in fat, sugar and salt before 9pm and ending deals such as buy-one-get-one-free on unhealthy food high in salt, sugar and fat.

The NHS said the new clinics will be located across the country at:

1. Derriford Hospital

2. Southampton University Hospitals

3. Kent and Medway CCG there is an outreach clinic

4. East London (Kings College London Hospital and Bart’s Health NHS Trust)

5. West London (covered by Great Ormand Street Hospital, University Hospital London and Tavistock Hospital)

6. Addenbrooke’s Hospital

7. Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals

8. Birmingham Women and Children’s

9. Nottingham Children’s Hospital / Leicester Royal Infirmary

10. Sheffield Children’s Hospital

11. Alder Hey Children’s Hospital

12. Manchester Children’s Hospital

13. Royal Preston

14. Leeds Teaching Hospital

15. South Tees Hospital

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