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Childhood obesity "levelling off"

The rapid rise in the number of obese children may be coming to an end, new figures suggest.

Analysing the predicted number of obese children by the year 2012, officials from the Department of Health have predicted a 17% drop in the forecast number of overweight girls aged two to 11 and a 4% drop in the number of obese girls of the same age.

Similar figures for boys indicated a 5% and a 7% fall, respectively.

Public Health Minister, Gillian Merron, said: "The encouraging news that child obesity may be levelling off is thanks to the hard work of families, schools and the NHS across England, supported by government initiatives such as 5-A-Day and Healthy Schools, which have overseen improvements to school food and school sport.

"We'll only turn the tide on obesity for good if everyone - government, families and industry - play their part."

The Change4Life programme, launched in Dudley, Halifax, Sheffield, Tower Hamlets, Thetford, Middlesbrough, Manchester, Tewkesbury and Portsmouth last month, saw participating towns and cities receive a share of £30 million for investment in healthy eating initiatives.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

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