OBESITY affects more children from deprived areas of the borough than those in more affluent ones according to health experts.
In a complete reversal from years gone by, where youngsters were severely malnourished, health chiefs now say that children living in areas with high levels of deprivation and unemployment are more likely to be overweight than those who are living in areas considered better off.
Many areas of Wigan borough regularly feature high on lists of areas of the country which have high levels, of deprivation, poverty and unemployment.
Dr Kate Ardern, Executive Director of Public Health for the Borough of Wigan, said: “Local data clearly identifies that children and young people from deprived backgrounds are more likely to be overweight or obese, although being overweight and obesity still remains a concern across society as a whole. Nationally data has shown that obesity prevalence in Year Six children (10/11 year olds) in the most deprived 10 per cent of the population is approximately twice that of the least deprived 10 per cent.
“However, there is some good news. Data published in December 2012 for 2011-12 highlights a reduction in obesity in reception aged children in Wigan borough.
“Levels of overweight children has reduced to 12.9 per cent, from 14.2 per cent in 2010-11 indicating that services in the Early Years are starting to have a positive impact.”
Government ministers have threatened food manufacturers with legislation unless they cut the amount of fat, sugar and salt in their products and urged firms to sign up to the voluntary “responsibility deal” to reduce calories.
The Child Poverty Action Group said there was clear connection between deprivation and obesity but ministers needed to revisit their own policies rather than blame parents.
“The real reason why our obesity problem is going to get bigger in the years ahead is because our child poverty problem is going to get much bigger as a result of the government’s own policies,” said the organisation’s head of policy Imran Hussain.
“Poor children are much more likely to miss out on healthy food on cost grounds than children living in households with average incomes.”
Help and advise on childhood obesity is available by visiting visit www.wigan.gov.uk/fit4fun or to book an appointment contact the Fit 4 Fun team on: 01942 776192”.