A quarter of reception-aged children in the borough of Westminster are overweight, an NHS study says.
Research for the 2018/19 school year, that was released this month, counted the number of children in every town and borough across England.
It found that inner London boroughs are among the least healthy, and that obesity is strongly linked to levels of deprivation.
In Westminster, 12 per cent of children in reception ― ages four to five ― were classed as overweight, while 10 per cent were obese, two per cent were labelled seriously obese.
The problems grow as children get older. By year six ― ages 10 to 11 -― 14 per cent of Westminster pupils were overweight, 24 per cent were obese, and five per cent were seriously obese.
The study explained that a “severely obese” child would have a BMI of 40 or more. This is the equivalent of a boy aged 10 who is 4ft 8in tall and nearly 13 stone.
The average for towns and boroughs across England is that one in three children in year six were either overweight or obese.
Westminster was in line with the average for London’s 32 boroughs. Across the capital, roughly 25 per cent of reception-aged children are overweight or obese. This rate reached 43 per cent by year 11.
London as a whole was on par with the rest of England. But some London boroughs had the highest proportion over overweight school children.
Children in Barking and Dagenham are the fattest in the country. Nearly half of all 10 and 11-year-olds, and a quarter of all reception children, were either overweight or obese. Children in the boroughs of Brent, Enfield and Newham were also exceptionally unhealthy.
Affluent Richmond Upon Thames in South West London has the lowest rate in the capital, with only 11 per cent of Year 6 pupils marked as obese.
The report said a “strong relationship” exists between obesity and deprivation. Among year 11 children, rates of severe obesity were over four times as high for children living in the most deprived areas of the country.
And an NHS report from last year said this was because “energy-rich, nutritionally poor meals tend to be cheaper and quicker to cook”.
“While children born in 1946 from lower socio-economic classes had a lower average weight, those born in 2001 had a higher average weight,” it said.
Earlier this year, Westminster Council’s Public Health department said: “Preventing childhood obesity is a key national and local priority. Obesity is associated with multiple adverse health outcomes and significant costs to the NHS and wider economy.
“Across Westminster, rates of childhood obesity are below the London and England average for children in Reception year but above the London and England average for children in year six.”
NHS chief executive Simon Stevens said: “Obesity is a dangerous public health threat for our children, leading to a string of serious illnesses.
“While the NHS will be there for patients, services and budgets will obviously be placed under more strain.
“So we also need combined action from parents, businesses and government to safeguard our children from this preventable harm.”
By LDRS reporter Owen Sheppard