More than a third of Year 6 pupils in Peterborough are classed as obese or overweight, according to newly published figures.
The latest NHS Digital figures show 36.2 per cent of pupils at schools in the Peterborough local authority area are obese or overweight.
In total, 14.2 per cent of Year 6 pupils are overweight and 22 per cent are obese.
For children in reception, 14.2 per cent are overweight with 8.9 per cent classed as obese, adding up to a total of 23.1 per cent as either overweight or obese.
In the Cambridgeshire County Council local authority area, 27.2 per cent of Year 6 pupils are overweight or obese, as are 18.5 per cent of children in reception.
The East of England averages are 31.5 per cent for Year 6 pupils and 21 per cent for reception pupils.
For the whole of England, the averages are 34.2 per cent and 22.6 per cent.
Barbara Paterson, deputy director of health and wellbeing at Public Health England, East of England, said: “Although we have not seen a huge increase in child obesity rates in the region, these latest figures should still be a wake-up call as no child should suffer with obesity.
“Our children need every opportunity to enjoy a healthy life when they are young and to avoid developing serious health problems such as diabetes, heart and liver disease.
“Childhood obesity is the challenge of a generation and we need to take collective joined-up action both locally and nationally to give our children the future they deserve.”
The data is taken from the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) which determines the height and weight of children in Reception and Year 6 in schools across the country.
A spokeswoman for Vivacity, which runs leisure and sporting services in Peterborough, said: “Under 5s swim free at all of our facilities that have a pool (Vivacity Premier Fitness, Regional Fitness & Swimming Centre, Jack Hunt Pool and the Lido when it is open), provided they are with a paying adult or an adult that is an existing member.
“We also have swimming lessons that adhere to the Swim England syllabus for children aged 3 months plus. Children can start in our Duckling sessions and work their way up to levels 8-10 where they will get the choice to break off into one of three specialisms; rookie lifeguarding, competitive swimming or diving.
“In addition to swimming, across all six of our facilities we run a range of sports clubs for young children throughout the week, alongside external providers. The sports clubs range from martial arts to dance classes and from cycling to trampolining. These sessions are available to children from as young as two years old.
“We run sports holiday clubs for children every school holiday and half term except Christmas. Although the children do more than just sports it’s essential for us that at least one sporting activity is programmed in everyday so that children can be active whilst having fun.
“For example at our Jack Hunt club we get the pool inflatables out once in a while and the children can splash around in the pool whilst having a good time without realising how much exercise they are getting. Our holiday clubs are targeted at children aged 4-13.
“Children aged 11-15 that might not be as interested in taking part in holiday clubs but are still interested in keeping fit and healthy can come to the gym at a slightly discounted rate provide they can supply a signature from a parent/ guardian.”
Public Health England (PHE) has launched a comprehensive sugar reduction programme and has begun work to tackle excess calorie consumption, while the Soft Drinks Industry Levy has become law and will take effect from April 2018.
Leading retailers and manufacturers have announced they have lowered the amount of sugar in their products or will do so as a result of these programmes.
PHE’s Change4Life campaign is also helping millions of families to make healthier choices through meal swap suggestions and the Be Food Smart app to identify the sugar, salt and fat in food. It also supports schools to help them embed healthier habits into everyday school life.
Eustace De Sousa, national lead for children, young people and families at PHE, said: “A healthy weight in childhood lays the foundations for decades of healthy life as an adult. This data underlines how important it is for families to talk about health and weight as part of everyday life.
“Each year, more children leave primary school overweight or obese and our most deprived areas are the worst affected. It’s never too soon to make a change and there is lots of support from councils and Change4Life to help.”