A new Public Health Wales programme, Every Child Wales, is being launched today (24 July) to improve the health and wellbeing of children, as new survey results reveal that parents do not always recognise when their child is overweight.

In the survey, just 4 per cent of parents with children aged 4 to 5 described their child as being overweight for their age and height. 

However, the 2015/16 Child Measurement Programme results show that just over a quarter (26 per cent) of children aged 4 to 5 are overweight or obese in Wales.

Every Child Wales, which was launched at Gibbonsdown Children’s Centre in Barry, brings together lots of great information and advice to support parents in giving children a happy and healthy start in life. A new Every Child Wales website will help parents from when they are planning their pregnancy to when their child is five – and it’s all available for free at www.everychildwales.co.uk.

The advice will help parents to ensure their children stay a healthy weight.  A child who is overweight at five is more likely to be obese by the time they are eight, and could grow up to develop long term health problems like type 2 diabetes or asthma.

Every Child Wales provides advice to parents on subjects like breastfeeding, how to cut down on sugary drinks, how to make sure children get enough sleep, and how to manage the amount of screen time their children have.  These are all factors that can increase the risk of a child becoming overweight or obese.

Chloe, a veterinary receptionist and Scott, a sales and retentions agent from Trecynon, Aberdare are parents to 12-month-old baby girl, Darcie-Rose. They are already conscious of the steps they take to make sure their daughter grows into a happy and healthy child.

Chloe, 19 said:

“Darcie arrived just over three weeks early so was very small when she was born. Although she is still petite, she is on track with her weight which reassures me that Scott and I are doing the right things to make sure she is healthy.”

With a small back garden and limited outdoor areas near to where they live, Chloe and Scott make the most of Scott’s mother’s back garden as a place for Darcie to play.

Chloe added:

“Darcie started walking on her first birthday and is always up on her feet. But our garden is too small for her, so we’re regularly at my mother in law’s where she has plenty of space to run around and play with her ball.

“We only let Darcie watch TV with breakfast, then we spend the rest of the day playing games in the house, reading books or taking the dog for a walk.”

“I had no idea such a high portion of children went to school overweight. It makes me more determined to do all we can in Darcie’s early years so that when she goes to school she is able to make the right choices.”

Dr Julie Bishop, Director of Health Improvement for Public Health Wales said:

“Every child deserves the best possible start in life. If a child spends their early years healthy and happy, they are more likely to grow into healthy and happy adults.

“Many parents may not realise that their child is overweight, or they may not be aware that it’s something to take seriously.  When children are a healthy weight, they feel better about themselves, and they find it easier to play and learn.

“Starting from birth, helping children stay a healthy weight is the best approach.”

Get free advice from NHS Wales at www.everychildwales.co.uk.

Join in the conversation on Twitter and Facebook @EveryChildWales.

Beaufort Research undertook a survey on behalf of Public Health Wales consisting of a total of 1,503 telephone interviews with parents and carers of children aged 0 to 5 in Wales, between 11 April and 6 June 2017.

The launch of Every Child Wales is the first stage of a long term programme of work to increase the proportion of children who start school a healthy weight.