Child obesity rates in Barking and Dagenham the highest in London

Bexley has one of the highest levels of child obesity in London Picture: Chris Radburn/PA Images

Bexley has one of the highest levels of child obesity in London Picture: Chris Radburn/PA Images - Credit: PA WIRE

Child obesity levels in Barking and Dagenham are the highest in the capital, a new survey reveals.

One in four (28.5 per cent) of Year 6 pupils in the borough were considered obese, according to an NHS report made public this morning.

The data found children aged between 10 and 11 years old in Barking and Dagenham were more than twice as likely to be obese than the borough with the lowest childhood obesity rate, Richmond upon Thames (12.6pc).

Public Health England regional director Yvonne Doyle said the capital’s “obesity emergency” had become “a normal response to an abnormal environment”.

“London has a worse record on childhood obesity than most other peer global cities such as New York, Paris and Madrid,” she said.

“Over a third of London’s children are overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school.”

A total of 2,765 Londoners took part in the survey, 157 of whom were from Barking and Dagenham.

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The figures show 13.9pc of Reception-age children between four and five years old are obese, followed closely by Greenwich (13pc) and Newham (12.5pc).

A spokesman for Barking and Dagenham Council said the council “recognises” the findings.

“This is a complex issue and includes the need to understand the barriers stopping people from changing their behaviour, including cost, understanding of the need to change, ease of access and other factors stopping them from accessing healthier lifestyles,” he said.

The council has commissioned research into the issue and supports residents looking to lead healthy lifestyles, he added.

More than half of Londoners surveyed saw a flood of cheap, unhealthy food and drinks as the main factor leading kids away from healthy lives.

Two fifths thought there were too many fast food shops in their area, with a third stating that safety concerns about children meant youngsters did not receive enough exercise.

The findings followed similar results in the British Attitudes to Obesity Survey, where 91pc of respondents felt fast food was too easily available.

But a strong appetite existed for tackling childhood obesity, the NHS survey concluded, with 86pc of Londoners believing the issue should be a “top or high priority”.