Obesity levels highest in Merseyside kids

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Burgers. Pic © Arnaud 25 Wikipedia Commons

Burgers. Pic © Arnaud 25 Wikipedia Commons

Around 40 per cent of 11 year-olds in Merseyside are overweight, according to the government’s National Child Measurement programme.

In Liverpool, 38.8% of Year 6 pupils were clinically overweight or obese in 2013/14, which is above the English average of 33.5%.

Liverpool University professor Jason Halford, chairman of the Association for the Study of Obesity, the UK’s weight crisis taskforce, said: “Something critically needs to be done.

“Obesity is worse in urban areas, there has been confusion in recent years over who is responsible for public health and the demands on schools are greater than ever. But there has been no significant movement from the food industry.

“Children are very exposed to the marketing of unhealthy foods and these foods are readily available, so we shouldn’t be surprised at the levels of obesity we are seeing in this country.”

He continued: “Tackling obesity is everybody’s responsibility, everyone including parents needs to play their part.”

Childhood obesity rates have fallen slightly in recent years across Merseyside, but the numbers remain above the national averages. People with a body-mass index measuring between 25 and 30 are considered overweight, while those with an index above 30 are considered obese.

A spokesperson from Kids Health UK told JMU Journalism: “This is a problem we need to sort out fast. We can’t just blame the parents for this, it’s a mixture of everything including the education system.

“Fast food places are just so easy and accessible to turn to. I think the promotion of places like McDonalds should be cut way back. Kids see the adverts on TV and are absorbing information that is rotting their minds.”

About Laura Schumann, JMU Journalism