Sunderland remains childhood obesity blackspot despite numbers falling

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SUNDERLAND youngsters are winning the battle of the bulge – but still remain among the fattest in the country.

A report from the Health and Social Care Information Centre shows that 10.6 per cent of reception age children in Sunderland are classed as being obese, down from 11.2 per cent in 2012.

And the figure is almost doubled among Year 6 pupils, with 21.3 per cent of children obese, compared to 24 per cent last year.

Across the whole of the North East, 59.7 of reception age and Year 6 children combined are either overweight or obese, a fall of 3.7 per cent on last year.

The average obesity rate for Year 6 children in England now stands at 18.9 per cent, with reception age children at 9.3 per cent.

Health leaders on Wearside today welcomed the news that rates of obesity are falling, but added that more still needs to be done to improve the weighty issue.

More than 5,500 Sunderland children aged from four to 11 had their weight taken as part of the study, which also concluded that children are twice as likely to become obese if they are from deprived areas.

Councillor John Kelly, who is portfolio holder for public health at Sunderland City Council, was pleased with the drop but warned against complacency in the fight to further bring the figures down.

“While it is encouraging to see a reduction in the numbers of children who are overweight and very overweight, it is important to continue efforts to tackle this issue, which can have long-term consequences for children,” said Coun Kelly. “Children and families need to be supported to make positive, healthy choices and this needs to be made as easy as possible. The Lifestyle, Activity and Food Programme (LAF) continues to work with children and families supporting them in making positive choices together.

“The city council and health partners all recognise the importance of working together, improving access to services and ensuring opportunities for play and family activities are available locally.

Chairman of the Health and Social Care Information Centre, Kingsley Manning, said: “These figures provide clear insight into the weight of the next generation on both a national and local scale.

“The first drop in obesity prevalence among Year 6 stands out, although we will need to see what the numbers say in future years to determine if this is the start of a decline or more of a blip.”