One third of Camden children in year six deemed obese
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A staggering one in three Camden children in their final year of primary school are obese, according to the council.
The figures from a report on Camden’s ‘Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives’ strategy were discussed last week by the council’s Health and Wellbeing board.
Camden health chiefs highlighted a “very strong correlation” between rates of obesity at school level and the proportion of children eligible for free school meals.
The reports exposes a “sustained obesity gap” between children from the most affluent areas and those living in more deprived parts of the borough - and the gap is widening.
Holborn-based Magic Breakfast provides nutritious meals to 19 schools in Camden. Harriet Green, the nutrition manager at the national chairty, said: “The obesity rates amongst children from deprived areas are much higher than the national average.
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“By age 11, children from the poorest income groups are three times more likely to become obese than children from well off backgrounds.”
Ms Green said the reason is partly to do with having less access to healthier food and partly to do with the fact that high processed, high fat, salt and sugar foods are often cheaper than fruit, vegetables and good sources of protein and fibre. “And they have a longer shelf life which is important to a family with little income,” she said.
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Although obesity levels for Camden 10 to 11-year-olds have fallen below the average for London, they remain higher than the England average.
London has the highest levels of child obesity in the country and between 2007 and 2010 Camden’s levels were even highger. However from 2010/11 the severity or the problem in Camden has dipped below the average in the capital.
Camden Council said it has been working on a number of the initiatives to bring the figure at least in line with the England average. The project includes working with employers, charities and other organisations to promote physical activity, support healthy affordable food options and increase awareness of the problems.
Councillor Georgia Gould, Cabinet Member for Young People, Adults and Health at Camden Council, said: “We are pleased that obesity figures in Camden are lowering, when compared to other areas of London. It suggests what we are doing is working.”
But there is still more to do, she said. “Obesity is a complex issue, with a number of social factors involved.
“We want to create an environment across the borough that best supports people to have active lives and healthy diets and we are supporting people to take action themselves.”