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The aim of this cross-sectional study was to examine the association between childhood obesity and modifiable population-level risk factors, after accounting for deprivation.
A review of the literature identified population-level risk factors including a healthy childcare setting, the local food environment, accessible open space, community safety and crime. Data for these risk factors were then identified and matched by each of the twenty-two local government areas in Wales to each child that had data on height and weight in the Wales Childhood Measurement Programme (CMP) (2012–2017). Multivariable logistic regression was used to identify associations with childhood obesity.
The current study was undertaken in Wales, UK, where approximately one in eight 4–5-year-olds are classified as obese.
All participants were children aged 4 or 5 years who attend school, measured as part of the CMP, between 2012 and 2017 (n 129 893, mean age 5·0 (sd 0·4) years).
After adjusting for deprivation, small but statistically significant associations were found between childhood obesity and percentage of land available as accessible open space OR 0·981 (95 % CI: 0·973, 0·989) P < 0·001) and density of fast food outlets OR 1·002 (95 % CI 1·001, 1·004, P = 0·001). No other population-level risk factors were associated with childhood obesity.
The current study indicates that, even after accounting for deprivation, risk factors such as the density of fast food outlets and access to green space should be considered when tackling childhood obesity as a public health issue.
There is a growing concern about the mental health of children and young people (CYP) in the UK, with increasing demand for counselling services, admissions for self-harm and referrals to mental health services. We investigated whether there have been similar recent trends in selected mental health outcomes among CYP in national health surveys from England, Scotland and Wales.
Data were analysed from 140 830 participants (4–24 years, stratified into 4–12, 13–15, 16–24 years) in 36 national surveys in England, Scotland and Wales, 1995–2014. Regression models were used to examine time trends in seven parent/self-reported variables: general health, any long-standing health condition, long-standing mental health condition; Warwick–Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Score (WEMWBS), above-threshold Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire Total (SDQT) score, SDQ Emotion (SDQE) score, General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) score.
Across all participants aged 4–24, long-standing mental health conditions increased in England (0.8–4.8% over 19 years), Scotland (2.3–6.0%, 11 years) and Wales (2.6–4.1%, 7 years) (all p < 0.001). Among young children (4–12 years), the proportion reporting high SDQT and SDQE scores decreased significantly among both boys and girls in England [SDQE: odds ratio (OR) 0.97 (0.96–0.98), p < 0.001] and girls in Scotland [SDQE: OR 0.96 (0.93–0.99), p = 0.005]. The proportion with high SDQE scores (13–15 years) decreased in England [OR 0.98 (0.96–0.99), p = 0.006] but increased in Wales [OR 1.07 (1.03–1.10), p < 0.001]. The proportion with high GHQ scores decreased among English women (16–24 years) [OR 0.98 (0.98–0.99), p = 0.002].
Despite a striking increase in the reported prevalence of long-standing mental health conditions among UK CYP, there was relatively little change in questionnaire scores reflecting psychological distress and emotional well-being.
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