Health professionals in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan are welcoming figures from Public Health Wales that show the region has the lowest child obesity rate in the country.

Statistics from the Child Measurement Programme (CMP) for Wales 2014/15 reveal that 20.9 per cent of children aged four and five are overweight or obese in Cardiff and the Vale, compared to the Welsh average of 26.2 per cent.

Almost 30,000 children across Wales were weighed and measured for the survey, now in its fourth year.

Obesity in children can cause social and psychological problems; it is also more likely to continue into adult life, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Cardiff and Vale’s Public Health team has long been delivering and supporting initiatives to combat childhood obesity. This includes walking buses, to promote active travel to school, nutrition courses for children and parents and the Healthy Schools Scheme, which helps schools to include health and wellbeing in their daily activity.

It also delivers an award-winning programme to ensure that children receive nutrition and exercise during the summer holidays. The School Holiday Enrichment Programme (SHEP) was a multi-agency pilot in 2015 that saw children attend their schools outside term-time, where they were fed healthy meals, learned about food and played sports. It is being rolled out in schools across the city again this summer.

While Cardiff and Vale’s childhood obesity rates have decreased for the third year running, the number of underweight children remains at 1.7 per cent, the same as last year.

Director of Public Health, Sharon Hopkins, said, ‘These figures are extremely encouraging and reflect the efforts of the Public Health team and its partners in the public and third sectors, who are working together to tackle childhood obesity. ‘However there is no room for complacency. As well as the number of underweight children, we must continue our work to address inequality across Cardiff and the Vale. We know that deprived areas have higher rates of obesity and we aim to give every child the opportunity for a happy and healthy childhood and, in turn, a happy and healthy future.’