More Redbridge children becoming obese as figures top London and national averages

More children in Redbridge are becoming obese and the number of extremely overweight children is now above the London and national averages.

According to a report for Redbridge Council’s Children’s Services and Leisure Scrutiny Committee, 12.2 per cent of reception children are clinically obese, in comparison to 9.4 per cent in England.

Among year six children, 23.1 per cent were obese compared to 19.4 per cent nationally.

The proportion of obese children in the borough has been rising steadily since 2006 and many more are overweight.

Scrutiny committee chairman, Cllr Elaine Norman, said: “It’s concerning because obese children become obese adults and it can lead to a lot of health problems.

“We need to do more to encourage children to do regular exercise. That’s where we need to invest and improve facilities.

“We need to engage young people because you don’t want them sitting in front of computers at all hours instead of playing outside.”

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A recent survey showed that less than a quarter of Redbridge children do physical activity at school every day and around a third are active after school.

Obesity, measured using the body mass index, is considered to pose a health risk.

The report found that higher levels of obesity were found in areas of Redbridge with more economic deprivation and lower levels in more affluent areas.

Children were measured in Redbridge state schools in the 2010 to 2011 academic year as part of a national programme.

Child obesity will be one of the responsibilities of the council’s new health and wellbeing board, which is taking over some public health roles from the NHS in April.

Tam Fry, National Obesity Forum spokesman and chairman of the Child Growth Foundation, said children should be regularly measured and given more PE lessons to keep healthy.

He added: “We are victims of our own negligence.

“We should have been doing something about the problem 20 years ago and things are getting worse and worse.

“Child obesity needs to be attacked from all angles and authorities need to spend the money to do it.”