Barking and Dagenham has highest level of obesity among Year 6 pupils
- Credit: Radar
Barking and Dagenham has the highest level of obesity among Year 6 pupils in England, with more than four in 10 an unhealthy weight.
Public health groups urged the Government to take further action to prevent youngsters consuming junk food and sugary drinks, as the level of severe obesity hit a record high across England.
NHS Digital figures show almost one in three children that finished primary school in Barking and Dagenham in 2017-18 were obese, and of which 6.7 per cent were severely obese.
Additionally, 15pc of Year 6 children were overweight.
That means 45pc of Barking and Dagenham’s youngsters are unhealthily overweight when they finish primary school.
Across England, 4.2pc of 10 and 11-year-olds are severely obese, a record high.
Caroline Cerny, of the Obesity Health Alliance, a coalition of leading health charities, medical royal colleges and campaign groups, said “we can do something about this”.
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She explained: “We need to start with reducing the number of junk food adverts children see before a 9pm watershed, restrictions on junk food promotions in supermarkets and the food industry stepping up efforts to reduce sugar and fat from everyday foods.”
Each year officials measure the height and weight of more than one million children, in Reception and Year 6, to assess childhood obesity.
Obesity can lead to heart problems and type 2 diabetes later in life, as well as psychological issues such as low self-esteem and depression.
The data shows that children often develop weight problems while at primary school.
In 2017-18, 13pc of Barking and Dagenham’s children were obese in Reception.
Across England one in five pupils in Year 6 was obese. Children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds were more than twice as likely to be obese than those from the wealthiest areas.
Public health minister Steve Brine said: “Obesity is a problem that has been decades in the making – one that will take significant effort across government, schools, families and wider society to address.
“We cannot expect to see a reversal in trends overnight – but we have been clear that we are willing to do whatever it takes to keep children healthy and well in this country.”