Supermarket 'buy one, get one free' offers are helping fuel obesity in Blackpool it is claimed

More children are obese when starting school
More children are obese when starting school
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More Blackpool children than ever are overweight when they start school, new figures have revealed.

The latest measurement data shows 27 per cent of reception age children are overweight or obese - the highest it has ever been.

Read more Surge in Blackpool takeaways coincides with rise in obesity
It comes as health chiefs warn it could take 10 years before Blackpool's obesity crisis is tackled due to the need for 'generational change'.

This will include using planning rules to clamp down on new take-aways opening and stopping irresponsible 'buy one, get one free' deals at supermarkets.

Figures presented to a meeting of Blackpool Council's adult social care and health scrutiny committee showed more than a quarter of the resort's children are overweight or obese when they start school, rising to more than a third by the time they reach secondary school and two thirds when they reach adulthood.

In the last year 12 people across Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre have had bariatric surgery which achieves weight loss through fitting a gastric band or removing part of the stomach.

Nicky Dennison, of Blackpool's public health department, said aims included getting industry chiefs to rethink food promotions such as 'buy one, get one free'.

She told the meeting: "The industry has encouraged snacking and these offers mean people buy two packets of biscuits instead of one.

"But they don't save one packet for next week, they eat them both.

"One of the biggest problems for St George's School is having Asda opposite and all the kids do is go across the road and buy up all the special offers they have."

Dr Arif Rajpura, director of public health in Blackpool, added: "We have to accept more people are going to eat more meals out of the house than we would like.

"If they are going to eat at the chippy, then we would like there to be a healthy option such as a half portion of chips maybe, and fish being lightly battered."

The committee heard a number of programmes were underway, including link ups with council leisure services, to promote fitter lifestyles.

But Ms Dennison warned this would take several years to kick in.

She said: "It will be 10 years down the line when we see a major impact from what we are doing. It's a culture change and generational."

Coun Michele Scott asked for more sensitivity over the way parents were warned their children were overweight, because for some youngsters it was a very marginal measurement.

She warned labelling these children as fat was unfair to families who did ensure their youngsters ate healthily.

Blackpool data for the 2017/2018 National Child Measurement Programme reported 27 per cent of reception and 37.8 per cent of year six children are overweight or obese.

The reception figure is the highest it has ever been. The year six figure is higher than last year (34.3 per cent) but has not increased to the previous high of 40 per cent.

In 2016/2017 it was reported that 66.4 per cent of adults experience excess weight.