‘Nearly one in three of the most deprived boys could be obese by 2030’
Report warns England could fall further behind comparable countries on child health outcomes
England is lagging behind many European countries when it comes to child health, a new report claims.
Young people in England have poorer health outcomes than those in many comparable wealthy countries, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) warns, and could fall further behind if trends continue.
A leading paediatrician has called for the long-term NHS plan to focus on improving children’s health, warning the projections indicate ‘danger on the horizon’.
The report uses long-term historical data to project outcomes for children in 2030. It compares England with European and other western countries, known as the EU15+, including France, Spain, Germany, Greece, Italy, Australia and Canada.
Infant mortality well above average
The infant mortality rate in England and Wales rose in 2015 and 2016 and is 30% higher than the average among these countries, the report says.
Even if it declines again, infant mortality could still be 80% higher than the EU15+ average by 2030, it says; if it continues to rise at the same rate, it could be 140% higher by 2030.
The report predicts that mental health problems among young people in England could increase by 63% by 2030 if trends continue, rising from about 5% of those aged 4-19 to about 8%.
It also warns that nearly one in three of England’s most deprived boys could be obese in 12 years’ time without intervention.
RCPCH president and the author of the report Russell Viner says: ‘England currently has poorer health outcomes than the average across the EU15+ in most areas studied, and the rate of improvement for many outcomes is lower than the EU15+.
'This means that unless current trends improve, England is likely to fall further behind countries of similar wealth over the next decade.
‘This report clearly identifies the danger on the horizon – but the trends shown here are not inevitable.
‘If we are to turn the tide on these predictions, development of a children and young people’s health strategy for England and funding for a transformation programme to lead improvements in children’s health will be essential.’
Professor Viner says children living in poverty are of particular concern, as they are more likely to be obese, have mental health problems and die earlier.
An NHS England spokeswoman says the report ‘provides useful context for the NHS long-term plan’.
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