A five-year old in Peterborough is nearly three times as likely to be suffering from tooth decay as a child of the same age from Cambridgeshire.
That is just one statistic from a report by a leading children’s charity which highlights how under-fives in Peterborough are less healthy than those in the rest of Cambridgeshire.
On a deprivation ranking of 150 local authorities which are responsible for public health, Peterborough City Council is listed in 47th place.
This is considerably worse than the county council in Cambridgeshire which is ranked 136rd.
Anna Feuchtwang, chief executive of the National Children’s Bureau (which conducated the analysis) said the gap between the best and worst authorities across the country was “shocking.”
She has called for urgent action to be taken.
The charity’s analysis shows that Peterborough is also below the national average in four indicators to determine the health of under-fives.
The percentage of four-five year-olds who are obese in Peterborough is 10.6, compared to eight for Cambridgeshire and 9.5 in England.
The percentage of five-year-olds with tooth decay in Peterborough is 34.9, compared to 12.6 for Cambridgeshire and 25 for England.
The number of children aged 0-4 who were admitted to hospital due to injury is 146.5 out of every 10,000 for Peterborough, compared to 127.1 for Cambridgeshire and 140.7 for England.
And the percentage of children achieving a good level of development by the end of reception, based on Department for Education information, is 59.2 for Peterborough, compared to 61.2 for Cambridgeshire and 60.4.
Ms Feuchtwang said: “It is shocking that two children growing up in neighbouring areas can expect such a wildly different quality of health.
“As these variations are closely linked to poverty, with those in areas with the highest levels of deprivation more likely to suffer from a range of health issues, we have to ask whether England is becoming a nation of two halves?
“The link between poverty and poor health is not inevitable. Work is urgently needed to understand how local health services can lessen the impact of living in a deprived area.
“We need local and national government to make the same efforts to narrow the gap in health outcomes across the country for under-fives as has been made to narrow the gap in achievement between poor and rich pupils in school.
“Government must make it a national mission over the next five years to ensure that the health and development of the first five years of a child’s life is improved.’