Hyndburn has the highest rate of obesity among reception class pupils in Lancashire, while over 30 per cent of four and five- year-olds in certain areas are carrying excess weight, a shock report has revealed.
Public Health England (PHE) figures show that more than 350 children entering school are classed as ‘obese’, a rate of 11.2 per cent.
In the wards of Overton and Netherton, the study finds that 14 per cent of reception age children are obese, amounting to 53 children in Great Harwood.
The Lancashire and England average rates of obesity among reception age children are 9.6 per cent and 9.4 per cent respectively.
The figures, which are based on a three-year average, show the Hyndburn rate has risen from 10.1 per cent in the period between 2010 and 2013.
And the weight problem persists among older children, with more than 600 Year 6 pupils aged 10-11 classed as obese, again above the county average. Over a quarter of pupils this age in Central and Spring Hill are obese.
Noordad Aziz, Labour councillor for Netherton, said more needs to be done provide children with an active lifestyle and to educate parents about healthy diets.
He added: “It’s quite a sad statistic and it shows that we need to obviously provide them with lots of activities in the area and to encourage them to have an active lifestyle.
“We need to ensure that they have a balanced diet and then it would be necessary to educate their parents.
“We would also need to look at the schools, at their curriculum and dinners, to make sure they get taught about healthy eating.
“There’s also a need for more play areas, they’ve been taken down and never replaced, so they need to be brought back.”
Hyndburn ranks as one of the worst affected areas in the north west for the number of obese children – behind wards in Barrow, Merseyside and Manchester.
Coun Gareth Molineux, Labour representative for Overton, admitted he was ‘shocked’ at the figures.
He said: “It surprises me because we have a high uptake of sport in Overton and a lot of sports participation.
“It’s a big surprise. At the council, we’re trying to increase sports participation because that’s what needs to be done. Overton is quite an affluent area but I wouldn’t say that was the reason for the figures. I’m quite shocked.”
Overall, 806 children entering reception class in Hyndburn have been classed ‘overweight’ – the equivalent of one in four.
No. of ‘obese’ reception pupils in 2013-2016:
Hyndburn 366 (11.2%)
Netherton and Overton 53 (14.0%)
Burnley 364 (10.5%) Pendle 357 (10.2%)
Blackburn with Darwen 596 (9.3%)
Rossendale 228 (9.4%)
Ribble Valley 139 (8.6%)
Lancashire 4,767 (9.6%)
England 167,667 (9.4%)
No. of ‘overweight’ reception pupils in 2013-16:
Hyndburn 806 (24.7%)
Rishton 66 (31.0%);
Lancashire 11,668 (24.8%)
England 402,792 (22.2%)
No. of ‘obese’ Year six pupils in 2013-16:
Hyndburn 609 (20.4%)
Central and Springhill 168 (25.1%)
Lancashire 8,727 (19.0%)
England 305,919 (19.4%)
Source: Public Health England. * Children were defined as ‘obese’ if their BMI (weight divided by height) was greater than or equal to the 95th centile of the British 1990 growth reference (UK90) BMI distribution, while those greater than or equal to the 85th centile were classed as ‘carrying excess weight’