Wigan is now in top 10 per cent for obesity
More than a third of Wigan children are overweight by the time they leave primary school and a fifth are classed as 'obese'.
The rate of overweight youngsters has grown steadily over the past six years, and the borough now sits in the top 10 per cent for obese children in the UK.
Public Health England figures highlight a gradual increase in obesity and “excessive weight” in both reception and Year Six children since 2008/9.
With more “obese” reception children than ever before; Wigan is well above the national average, with 11 per cent of four and five-year-olds in this category by the time they start school. The national average is 9.3 per cent, with the lowest figure 4.6 per cent, in Epsom and Ewell in Surrey.
Wigan Council has revealed that there are a number of measures in place to tackle the ongoing problem of childhood obesity in the borough.
Prof Kate Ardern, director of public health, said: “Our Let’s Get Movin’ programme has received national recognition for tackling childhood obesity and has been used as an example of best practice. Not only does it encourage children to adopt a healthy way of living and teaches them the benefits of eating healthily and exercising it also educates parents and helps them to introduce healthy life choices which is a crucial aspect of improving wellbeing.”
The national study, which shows data from local authorities, Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and at ward level, has revealed that children in deprived areas are often at the highest risk of obesity.
The report also states: “Among children in Year Six in England 19.3 per cent were obese in 2013/14 to 2015/16 varying from 9.8 per cent to 27.1 per cent between local authorities. There is often considerable variation between neighbourhoods within each local authority. “The ward level data for Wigan reveals a distinct gap between the highest areas of obesity and the lowest.
Douglas ward, which includes areas such as Newtown and Poolstock, has more than a quarter of its school leavers classed as obese, whereas in Wigan Central ward which includes the town centre, Swinley and parts of Scholes, just over 12 per cent of Year Six children fall into this category.
The council is taking preventative methods to try and tackle the problem, which has been linked to cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes later in life amid a wealth of other health problems.
Prof Ardern added: “We know if we start early with our children, we can lay the foundations of good practice, make physical activity and health eating the norm, and work towards our vision of prevention of ill health.
“Our work through Wellfest and the Daily Mile further demonstrates our commitment to tackling health and wellness in the borough. The Daily Mile has been integral to improving outcomes for children that are classed as obese and we now have more than 50 primary schools on board.
“Working in partnership with Inspiring healthy lifestyles and our other partners across health and education, we remain committed to improving health in Wigan Borough, to make sure every child has the best possible start, and adults can lead long, healthy lives.”