BY CALUM FRASER
South London has some of the fattest kids in the country. Southwark has the fourth highest percentage of overweight or obese children in the country, according to statistics in a new study.
Using data from the National Child Measurement Programme, more than 13 per cent of children in the borough, between the age of four and five, are considered overweight or obese – up one per cent from last year. Experts blame the epidemic on an abundance of unhealthy food and a progressive lack of exercise.
At a Food for Thought event last month Doctor Jenny Tschiesche, known as the Lunch Box Doctor, said: “We have a huge problem with childhood obesity.
“For so many children their relationship with food comes from advertising and fast food restaurants. They trust the brand.
“We need to reconnect them with real food. If kids can have physical contact with food at school, seeing how a meal is made, they will trust it and they will eat healthier food.”
Head of charity UK Active Kids Jack Shakespeare said: “The modern child spends too much time in front of screens and not enough outside being active. “Parks and playgrounds are the bedrock of a child’s activity.
“Children from deprived backgrounds are suffering the most during school holidays.
“They don’t have the same access to clubs and sport trips that wealthier children have.
“Local authorities need to do all they can to make sure these children have easy access to active spaces.”
Southwark councillor Maisie Anderson, cabinet member for public health and social regeneration, said: “Childhood obesity is a national public health crisis.
“As a council, Southwark recognises the dangers of an unhealthy lifestyle, especially for children.
“This is a complex issue and we know that we won’t see changes overnight.
“We have implemented the Southwark Healthy Weight Strategy 2016-2021 which takes a whole system approach to tackling obesity.”
The council offers free fruit and school meals to primary schools and the free swim and gym programme gives residents access to leisure centres without charge. The percentage of overweight and obese children in Lambeth has been gradually decreasing over the years, but still more than 10 per cent of four to five-year-olds in the borough fall into that category.
Wandsworth, Lewisham and Merton have managed to maintain the number of obese or overweight four to five-year-olds under 10 per cent. In Lambeth 47.7 per cent are of excess weight – of whom 14.9 per cent are obese. Some 65.4 per cent are a healthy weight. Lewisham has 38.5 per cent of excess weight – of whom 23.8 per cent are obese. There are 66.8 per cent of people who are a healthy weight.
Wandsworth is 44.7 per cent overweight, with 15 per cent obese. It has 67.9 per cent who are a healthy weight. Camden has the lowest level of people with excess weight – 46.5 per cent. The most obese area is Boston, Lincolnshire with 34 per cent. On average, 64.8 per cent of people are of excess weight – of those, 40.4 per cent of people are overweight and a further 24.4 per cent are obese.
London has the lowest levels of obesity in the country, with just a fifth of its people rated as obese.
Just 38.5 per cent of Londoners were classed as overweight. Being of excess weight is defined as having a BMI of greater than or equal to 25kg/m2. Obesity is defined as over 30kg/m2.