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Fears over Welsh children's health

Children in Wales are putting their health at risk by drinking at an early age, exercising less and having body mass indexes (BMI) higher than most Western countries, a report claims.

The country's Chief Medical Officer, Tony Jewell, revealed in his first annual report that young people living in poor areas have worse health, are more likely to die before their first birthday, and are less likely to be breastfed.

He also found that around 25% of 13-year-old girls, and a third of boys in Wales say they consume an alcoholic drink every week.

Dr Jewell said the country must now think about how it can use the Assembly's law-making powers to deal with binge-drinking.

He discovered that a quarter of Welsh people smoke, and said a "realistic intermediate goal" will be to get that figure down to around 17%, the same as in Sweden and California.

He said: "While overall population indicators may show health is improving, these conceal wide variations within the population.

"I am particularly concerned about the health of children in Wales, notably the rising epidemic of obesity, high smoking rates, and the growing culture of binge-drinking.

"Children in Wales drink more alcohol at an earlier age, exercise less and have body mass index results higher than the majority of countries in the Western world."

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Chief Medical Officer for Wales

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