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Severe obesity four times more likely in poor primary schools

Primary pupils in England's poorest areas are four times more likely to be severely obese than ..

Primary pupils in England's poorest areas are four times more likely to be severely obese than in the wealthiest, according to the latest figures.

Overall, the proportion of severely obese Year 6 pupils has risen from 3.6% in 2009-10 to 4.2% in 2017-18.

Obese children are more likely to be bullied, stigmatised and have low self-esteem, Public Health England says.

And they are more likely to stay overweight, raising their risk of heart disease, type-2 diabetes and cancer.

The figures come from the National Child Measurement Programme, which tracks the height and weight of children in state primary schools in England.

In Reception, in the most deprived areas, 12.5% of children are obese, compared with 5.7% of those in the richest areas. And by Year 6 these figures have risen to 26.8% and 11.7%.

The proportion who are obese in Year 6 has risen from 20% in 2016-17 to 20.1% in 2017-18.

Boys are more likely to be obese than girls – 22.2% compared to 18% at the age of 10-11.

In Reception, 2.4% are severely obese, while the proportion who are obese has stayed static at 9.5% – and they too are more likely to be boys.

Three-quarters are a healthy weight – but this drops to two-thirds by Year 6.

Dr Max Davie, officer for health promotion for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said the figures were "totally unacceptable".

"Access and funding of high quality weight management services are urgently needed now if we are to ensure no child slips through the net and all children, no matter where they live, are given the same opportunity to good health."

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Giving blood: ‘We are reliant on blood donors to keep Henry alive’

Every blood donation “can save up to three lives”, yet come December thousands miss vital appointmen..

Every blood donation "can save up to three lives", yet come December thousands miss vital appointments to give blood, as the festivities kick in.

It can make a huge difference to patients like two-year-old Henry Alderson who needs blood transfusions every two weeks.

Last year, more than 9,000 people cancelled donor appointments at short notice in the week before Christmas.

When donors drop out in such numbers, bloods stocks inevitably dwindle.

For Henry, from Harwich, Essex, it could mean the difference between a Christmas spent waiting up for Rudolph and crashing his toys into the tree – and a Christmas spent in bed.

He has a rare condition called Diamond-Blackfan anaemia. It means he can't make his own red blood cells and needs blood transfusions every four weeks to keep him alive.

His mum Zoe said: "Transfusions are absolutely critical for Henry. We are reliant on blood donors… just to keep him alive."

In the days before each blood transplant, Henry's energy levels "plummet" according to his mum.

"When he gets this magical transfusion of blood, he's transformed into a healthy little boy," his mum says.

"For Henry – and people like him – it's being able to celebrate their birthday [next week], it's giving us the opportunity to tuck into bed on Christmas Eve and watch him wake up on Christmas morning. It's the gift of life." (more…)

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Mental health: Firms ask PM to deliver on pledge

Some of Britain's biggest employers are pressing the government to honour a promise to give men..

Some of Britain's biggest employers are pressing the government to honour a promise to give mental health the same status as physical health at work.

Royal Mail and WH Smith are among the companies asking the PM to follow through on her manifesto pledge to update health and safety legislation.

That would mean employers would have to provide appropriate training for staff to deal with mental ill-health.

About one in six of people at work have symptoms of a mental health condition.

A government-commissioned review put the cost of those conditions, such as depression, anxiety or stress, to the economy at between £74bn and £99bn a year.

At the last general election, the Conservatives said they would amend health and safety rules so employers would have to treat mental health the same way they treat physical health.

Some 50 executives, including Lord Sugar and bosses from Thames Water and Ford of Britain, have written to Theresa May, asking her to prioritise this particular pledge.

The companies behind the letter argue the promised change in the law would help break the stigma of mental illness at work.

Fionuala Bonnar, from Mental Health First Aid England said: "The change in legislation we are calling for will establish a baseline for protecting mental health in the workplace, ensuring no one is left behind."

Poor mental health affects half of all employees, according to a survey of 44,000 people carried out by the mental health charity Mind. (more…)

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Schools in Wales not aware of severe allergies, campaigner says

Schools are “not aware” of the need to offer allergy lessons to children, the mother of a boy with a..

Schools are "not aware" of the need to offer allergy lessons to children, the mother of a boy with a potentially fatal allergy has said.

Stephanie Hulme's son William, six, could suffer a fatal anaphylactic shock from his allergy to cats and nuts.

Mrs Hulme, of Cardiff, is giving free allergy lessons in primary schools with the Anaphylaxis Campaign.

The Welsh Government said all schools have guidance to support learners with these healthcare needs.

Mrs Hulme said William was "sad and upset" when he could not join in some school activities such as bake sales.

But since his mother gave an allergy lesson, William said he "doesn't feel different" anymore.

In 2017-18, 255 people were admitted to hospital for allergies, according to Stats Wales.

The biggest hurdle for Mrs Hulme is getting schools on board.

She said: "The attitude of some schools is that if there is no child with allergies at the school – then why educate them?

"They aren't aware of the need to make all children aware of what allergies are." (more…)

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