Researchers at the University of Liverpool have found that spending cuts on the Sure Start Children’s Center since 2010 are associated with an increased prevalence of obesity at school receptions.
According to a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health published by the BMJ, thousands of additional children became overweight or obese compared to expected numbers if spending remained at 2010 levels.
The authors of the study found that in poorer areas, where many are experiencing greater spending cuts, reinvestment in these services may help reduce childhood obesity inequality, along with broader child development benefits. I say I can’t.
Since 2010, many parliaments have cut spending on the SureStart Children’s Center due to significant budget cuts in UK municipalities. The SureStart Children’s Center offers a wide range of services to support parents and toddlers. Previous studies assessing the effects of SureStart on the health and development outcomes of different children have focused on program development and scale-up, and spending on these services under recent austerity programs. It is not designed to investigate the impact of reductions.
Corresponding author Dr. Kate Mason, A Research Associate of the Department of Public Health Policy Systems said: “The budget cuts in UK municipalities over the last decade have forced many parliaments to cut spending on SureStart Children’s Centers, where children are the best in their lives. Established in the community to provide a wide range of services to parents and toddlers to help them get off to a good start.
“Other studies have shown that SureStart had a positive impact on children’s health when the program was well funded. Our study shows that spending on children’s centers is significant. The reduction was found to be related to an increase in the number of obese toddlers by the time they go to school.
“Importantly, children’s centers play a particularly important role in less disadvantaged areas, but nonetheless, it is in these areas of England that spending is cut most. The social disability of childhood obesity. Equality is deteriorating, and other studies have shown that addressing childhood obesity requires a multifaceted system-wide solution. Our study is in the areas of greatest need. Reinvestment in Sure Start Children’s Centers at Sure Start suggests that these centers, along with other benefits they offer to parents and young children, may be part of an effective childhood obesity strategy.
This longitudinal ecological study covers the period 2010-2018 using data from the Ministry of Education and the National Child Measurement Program. Researchers used fixed-effects panel regression to quantify the association between changes in spending and changes in the prevalence of childhood obesity.
Spending on the Sure Start Children’s Center fell by an average of 53% during the study period, significantly reducing less fortunate local governments. Each 10% spending cut was associated with a 0.34% relative increase in obesity prevalence the following year. Researchers estimated an additional 4,575 obese children and 9,174 overweight or obese children, compared to expected numbers, if funding levels were maintained.
This study National Institute of Health (NIHR).
The complete treatise is available at Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health..
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