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Child public health part 1: strategies for health

02 August 2020
Volume 12 · Issue 8


Child public health is an area that focuses on child health outcomes that can have an impact through the life course. This article briefly explores some key concepts such as public health strategies and the potential role of paramedics in improving child health. The following articles in this series will delve further into the impact of paramedic practice on the three main elements of child public health: prevention, promotion and protection.

Approximately 21% of the population in England and Wales are children under 18 years of age (Office for National Statistics, 2018). However, child health in the UK is considered inadequate compared with other European countries (Wolfe et al, 2014; 2017). With current epidemics in childhood obesity and mental health continuing to rise unaddressed by the government (Royal College of Paediatric and Child Health (RCPCH), 2020), poor child health not only significantly impacts the quality of childhood, but the wider economy as well (Blair et al, 2010).

For instance, obesity is thought to reduce life expectancy by 2–10 years depending on body mass index (BMI) (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), 2015), and increases the risk of chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and depression, where obese children will experience severe complications of these conditions by the age of 40 (Davies, 2019). The direct cost of obesity in terms of medical costs and productivity is 3% of the UK's GDP (approximately £60 billion in 2018), of which the cost to the NHS is £6 billion per year—5% of the NHS budget (Davies, 2019). Yet, 20% of children are obese by the age of 10 (NHS Digital, 2018), which is likely to continue through adulthood (Simmonds et al, 2016). Addressing childhood obesity therefore could not only reduce the cost and burden of obesity, but also improve life expectancy and minimise conditions associated with obesity.

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