A quick round-up of children’s health stories in the news recently.

Childhood obesity under-recognised

Many health professionals and parents underestimate the degree to which children are overweight, according to a new study.  This news comes alongside figures revealing a 10-fold increase in the numbers of children who are above, in the last 40 years.  (5m girls in 1975 to 50m in 2016; 6m boys in 1975 to 74m in 2016)

The study looked at the perceptions of parents, caregivers and health professionals around children’s weight, and 55% of parents underestimated the degree to which their children were overweight. One third of the children themselves also underestimated, and health professionals also.  Parents who were overweight, and with lower levels of education, were less likely to accurately estimate their children’s higher weight. See an article in the Guardian for more details.


Gap between children’s and adults’ services putting children at risk

While children in care are supported past the age of 18, other children in need who are receiving support from children’s services are often not properly referred to adult services at the age of 18.  There is no requirement for local authorities to put such a plan in place.

The Children’s Society and 12 other charities are campaigning for the government to create a coordinated response to the issue, which affects around 240,000 vulnerable young people aged 16 and 17 in England, who are defined as ‘in need’ but are not in care.

See an article in the Guardian explaining the issue, and the letter from the Children’s Society and the other organisations.


BAME young carers struggle to get support

Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic children and young people who care for ill or disabled relatives are less likely to receive support than other young carers, according to a report published by Barnardo’s.  This includes such things as being interpreters for older family members visiting doctors and hospitals. Part of the issue is that ‘helping your family’ is expected, and there can be a deep mistrust of the authorities among BAME communities, as well as a long-standing stigma aorund disability and mental ill health.

For more, see the Barnardo’s Report.


WHO suggests ban on sedentary screen time for under 2s

The World Health Organisation has recommended an ban on sedentary screen time for children under 2, including computer games. Their suggested limit for children aged 2-4 is 1 hour per day. The new WHO advice focuses on passive viewing – youngsters being placed in front of a TV or computer screen or handed a tablet or mobile phone for entertainment – and is aimed at tackling child inactivity, a leading risk factor for global mortality and obesity-related ill health.

The UK has no plans to update its recommendations, and the UK’s Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health says there is little evidence that screen use for children is harmful of itself.

For the full advice, and comment, see the BBC website.