The number of overweight children in one Fenland area more than doubles between the beginning and end of primary school, shocking figures have revealed.
Almost half the youngsters in Year 6 in the Slate Lode ward, just north of Chatteris, have high Body Mass Index (BMI) readings – a total of 45.5 per cent – compared to 20.2 per cent of reception children.
A survey by Government agency Public Health England (PHE) looked at obesity levels by electoral ward and the difference between those starting primary school at age four to five, and those leaving at age 10 and 11.
The average percentage of overweight 10 and 11-year-olds was 31.6 per cent, with the worst being a ward in Dover, Kent, where the rate was 56.4 per cent. At the other end of the scale, three wards – Oxford North, Clevedon Walton in Somerset and Farnham Bourne in Surrey – had rates below 10 per cent.
The lowest reading in Fenland was Doddington, with 23.3 per cent of Year 6 children recording high BMIs, with Waterless in Wisbech and the March West ward coming in at 37.9 and 29.5 per cent respectively.
PHE health officials said figures for Slate Lode and other areas where child obesity levels double between the beginning and end of primary school were “deeply concerning”.
They also reinforce the divide between those on higher and lower incomes, with the latter often resorting to cheaper, unhealthy food due to the cost involved in preparing healthier meals.
The figures also come in the wake of PHE’s sugar reduction report, which warns that Britain’s sweet tooth is fuelling its obesity crisis – and calls for a ‘sugar tax’ on sugary food and soft drinks.