Children's health in England varies widely, with their wellbeing varying significantly depending on where they live and how well off their family is. Children in a poor family, living in an overcrowded, damp flat or missing out on balanced, healthy meals, are more likely to suffer from health problems than children in better off households. Poverty has a significant effect on children's health, including making them more likely to miss school because of illness, to develop mental health problems and to have poor health in adulthood.

Children's mental health is of particular concern, as the focus of government policy and school curriculums has until relatively recently been physical health only. One in ten children aged 5 - 16 suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder - or around three children in every class, and it's recognised that children whose mental health problems aren't addressed are more likely to suffer later on in life too. NHS figures showed 235,000 under-18s using mental health services in June 2016 -  but many more, dealing with issues such as depression, self-harm and stress, will be waiting for access to the right service. 

There is increasing pressure on schools to support children's emotional wellbeing but school staff are under-resourced to be the frontline of support or diagnosis. Teachers don't feel adequately trained, there are not enough school nurses and as our members Place2Be have found, money is a big barrier for schools who want to offer counselling to pupils

When it comes to physical health, England compares badly with other countries. Our Report Card for 2016 puts us near the bottom of the 38 countries surveyed for children's levels of activity and exercise and suggests our children are getting less exercise than they were a year ago. The government has recently announced a plan on childhood obesity which recognises the harm caused by food and drink that's high in sugar, but the plan places very few requirements on the food and drink industry other than a soft drinks levy.

Public Health England data for children's health shows statistics such as birth weight, obesity and hospital admissions for injuries, asthma and self-harm.

Manifesto demand: NHS system stability Manifesto demand: mental health Manifesto demand: ban energy drinks