One in 10 reception class pupils is obese

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ALMOST 10 per cent of children aged four and five in Portsmouth are categorised as obese, new figures show.

The latest statistics from the government’s National Child Measurement Programme show that 172 of 1,794 reception class children measured were obese.

The 9.6 per cent figure for the year 2010/11 is a drop on the previous year when 12.5 per cent of pupils were obese.

But despite the improvement city health figures are still concerned.

Dawn Saunders, public health consultant at Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘We are delighted to see figures for childhood obesity have reduced. However we must not become complacent.

‘Although our figures have reduced and we are more in line with the national average, our obesity rates are slightly above the England average in the reception year. Through the Children’s Trust Board, we have worked to highlight the importance of reducing childhood obesity.

‘We have developed healthy conversations for front-line staff, so consistent messages around healthy eating and exercise are given.

‘We are developing a children’s healthy weight pathway, which will help families access information and community services that promote a healthy lifestyle.’

From this month ISS Education will be the new provider of school meals in primary and special schools, and four secondary schools.

Children will get a choice from three main dishes and two vegetables, plus a salad bar with up to six salad choices.

‘The data shows we are moving in the right direction, but the levels of overweight and obesity remain far too high, and represent a major public health challenge for Portsmouth,’ added Ms Saunders.

‘As such, reducing childhood obesity will continue to be a key priority for the Children’s Trust Board and public health as it moves in to the local authority.’

Andrew Mortimore, Portsmouth’s interim public director of health, said tackling obesity was one of the items he wanted to treat as a priority.

He said: ‘Along with smoking and alcohol, we need to keep the strong programme of healthy eating in place.’