Daventry children among healthiest in country

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Daventry youngsters are some of the healthiest in the country, despite childhood obesity being a problem across large parts of England.

NHS England figures show that just 14% of Year 6 pupils were obese during the 2017-18 school year, one of the lowest rates in England.

In some London boroughs, such as Barking and Dagenham, almost one in every three 10 and 11-year-olds are classified as obese.

In Daventry, 1.3% of Year 6 children were severely obese, and a further 14% overweight.

That means 28% of Daventry’s youngsters are unhealthily overweight when they start secondary school, below the England average.

The figures are from the National Child Measurement Programme.

Each year officials measure the height and weight of more than one million children, in Reception and Year 6, to assess childhood obesity.

The Government works out obesity using the 1990 British growth reference chart, a large collection of statistics used to determine a child’s body mass index (BMI). It defines a child as obese if their BMI is in the chart’s top 5%, and overweight if they are in the top 15%.

Children’s BMI is measured differently to adults, and is calculated using age and gender as well as height and weight.

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, just 8% of Daventry’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.

Dr Max Davie, of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said the figures were “totally unacceptable”.

However, he said the Government “has already shown it is serious about tackling childhood obesity ... And I am reassured that these stats will begin moving in the right direction”.

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.

“We have already removed tonnes of sugar from children’s diets through the sugar tax, which has funded vital school sports and breakfast programmes, and this summer we announced the second chapter of our childhood obesity strategy with a series of bold plans to halve child obesity by 2030.”