'Worrying' childhood obesity rates in Weston-super-Mare's most deprived wards
PUBLISHED: 09:00 12 June 2018
Around one in five year six pupils in Weston-super-Mare's most deprived wards is obese, according to figures from Public Health England.
Weston’s Central Ward has the highest number of obese children at 21.6 per cent, followed by Milton at 20.7 per cent.
Blagdon and Churchill have one of the lowest rates in North Somerset at 10 per cent.
Cllr Mike Bell, who represents Weston’s Central Ward for North Somerset Council, said: “The latest child obesity rates are really worrying and yet again we see the most deprived communities with the biggest challenges.
“Child obesity is a ticking time-bomb which leaves children facing lifelong health problems and the NHS facing long-term costs.
“Cuts by the Government to public health budgets have taken their toll on early intervention work to improve the health of local children.
“Taken together with the cuts that the council has made to children’s centre budgets and staffing, and it is no wonder that so many children are overweight.
“The council needs to up its game by focussing on those communities most in need.
“There needs to be more resources for Weston Central Children’s Centre, including new, improved premises and family support staff.
“We also need a comprehensive programme of public health engagement with local families including healthy eating and fitness schemes.”
The weight and height of all children are measured when they start and leave primary school, as part of the Government’s national child measurement programme.
A North Somerset Council spokesman said the district’s figures were not out of keeping with other parts of the country.
They added: “Although our rates of childhood obesity in primary school are similar or lower than regional and national averages, there are still a significant number of children who risk long-term harm from being overweight or obese.
“Support is provided in preschool settings, such as children’s centres and schools, as well as providing access to advice from health professionals like health visitors and school nurses.
“The aim is to work with parents to increase their knowledge and confidence in making healthier choices in everyday areas like food shopping, cooking skills and encouraging regular physical activity.”