Childhood obesity on rise

One in five Year Six pupil is overweight, figures show.
One in five Year Six pupil is overweight, figures show.
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Around one in five Year Six pupil in Blackpool is obese, new figures have revealed.

Latest stats show 280 of the town’s 10 and 11 year olds – more than 20 per cent – are obese, which is higher than the national average of 19 per cent and an increase on last year’s figures.

Blackpool Councillor 'Coun Sarah Riding

Blackpool Councillor 'Coun Sarah Riding

And a further 15 per cent of the 1,400 children measured are classed as overweight by the time they reach the age of 11.

Of the age group, figures for 2012 to 2013 from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) show that 896, 64 per cent, of the children are a healthy weight.

They also show that around 162 four and five year olds in Blackpool – 10.5 per cent of the 1,617 children measured – are classed as obese when they start school, just higher than the England average of nine per cent.

Last year, 18 per cent of children were obese in Year Six, and 8.6 per cent were obese in reception.

The increase in obese children comes as the HSCIC reported a national downward trend in child obesity.

But Coun Sarah Riding, Blackpool Council cabinet member for health, said obesity was down to the wider poverty issue in Blackpool.

She said: “People think if you’re poor you’re going to be thin but with obesity comes malnourishment.

“Parents might not have the money to buy healthy foods – it can cost £1 for fresh cauliflower, but you can buy several packets of biscuits for that which fill the children up.

“People are very quick to condemn and blame parents but a lot live in poor accommodation which might not have appropriate cooking facilities.”

Coun Riding praised the council’s Free Breakfast Scheme and the work of Blackpool FC Community Trust in educating young people about keeping fit and healthy.

At Our Lady of the Assumption School in Blackpool, children are taught the importance of eating healthy food and keeping active.

PE co-ordinator at the school on Thornhill Close, Laurie Sharrock, said: “We make sure healthy living is integrated across the curriculum.

“Healthy lives is a big part of sport in school and we have a big uptake in our lunch time and after school sports activities.”

Mr Sharrock said the school also took a strong stance on bringing unhealthy food and drink into school.