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NICE recommends school nurse role in preventing childhood obesity

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has made recommendations to prevent childhood obesity, including informing children and their families about lifestyle weight management programmes. 

School nurses need to play a role in signposting children who are overweight or obese to lifestyle weight management programmes, according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). 

A quality standard, published by NICE today, sets out a range of approaches to prevent those aged under 18 from becoming overweight or obese.

In England, more than a fifth (22.5%) of children aged four to five years old measured through the National Child Measurement Programme were overweight or obese in 2013/14.   The proportion increased to 33.5% for children aged 10 to 11 years old. 

Type 2 diabetes, which was previously found almost entirely in adults, is also now being diagnosed in children and young people.

School nurses and other healthcare professionals should be aware of lifestyle weight management programmes for children and young people in their area and how to enrol people on them, the standard says. 

Healthcare professionals should also provide information on these programmes to children and young people who are overweight or obese and their parents or carers. 

Family members should take part in the programmes, regardless of their own weight, to provide ‘positive reinforcement and support’ away from the programmes. The programmes identify changes that can be made at home and maintained on a long-term basis, such as healthy eating and getting the whole family to be more active.

NICE deputy chief executive Gill Leng said: ‘Families and carers have an important role in supporting children and young people who are overweight or obese, which this standard recognises.’

The standard also recommends that healthy food and drink options are available to children and their parents from vending machines at NHS or local authority sites. Nutritional information on menus and healthy food and drink choices should be displayed prominently in the same locations. 

To read the full standard, click here

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