A third of children overweight by the end of primary school

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New figures by Public Health England (PHE) show that one in three children are now either overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school.

Reported in The Telegraph, the official statistics show hotspot areas where at least half of youngsters have high Body Mass Index (BMI) readings.

In some areas, more than a quarter of children are classified as obese by the time they start school.

The figures emerged as ministers have been under pressure to introduce a ‘sugar tax’ and curbs on junk food marketing aimed at pre-teens.

Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, said: “It is statistics like these that have caused Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to call childhood obesity a 'great scandal’.

“By the age of eleven, children tend to have made up their minds about what their lifestyle will be. The consequence of being obese so young is to enter a whole new world of illness and disease where things like diabetes, cardio-vascular problems and even gout are commonplace and will affect them for most of their lives.

“David Cameron has promised an obesity strategy promised for January. Capping the amount of sugar that the food and beverage industry put in their products could be just as effective but achieving that would take time."

PHE’s report into the effects of sugar found that teenagers, on average, consume more than three times the recommended amount of sugar – while adults have more than twice the advised limit. The report also blamed marketing using popular cartoon characters as being a key factor in parents bending to pester power.

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