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Overall figures encouraging in the county
CHILDREN’S waistlines in Malvern Hills are on the rise.
The percentage of year six children, aged 10 to 11 – classed as obese – has risen from 15.7 per cent to 16.2 per cent this year.
In Worcestershire waistlines are getting slightly smaller – but almost one in three 10 and 11-year-olds are still overweight or clinically obese.
New figures show the county is starting to win its high-profile battle with the bulge, with 32 per cent of year six children being classed as either overweight or obese, compared to 33.5 per cent last year.
Meanwhile, 17.6 per cent of year six children are now classed as obese, down from 18.2 per cent a year ago.
The sample of 5,096 children also showed wide discrepancies in obesity rates for children in different parts of the county.
Children in the Wyre Forest are the fattest in the county, with 20.4 per cent of year six children obese, while in Bromsgrove the figure is just 14.8 per cent.
Worcester’s rate is 16.7 per cent, down 2.8 per cent on the previous year, but levels have risen slightly to 18.9 per cent in Wychavon.
Obesity is now estimated to cost the NHS in Worc-estershire an estimated £80 million a year as well as placing an additional £60 million burden on the wider economy and tackling it is a top priority for county health chiefs.
Councillor Marcus Hart, cabinet member for health and wellbeing at Worcester-shire County Council, welcomed the improvement, but admitted there is still plenty more to be done.
“The report is very encouraging, suggesting that the message about healthy eating and exercise for children is starting to have the right effect.
“This data shows that the prediction that if trends do not alter, 60 per cent of men and 50 per cent of women in the UK will be obese by 2050 can be changed.
“We cannot however, underestimate the enormity of this task and we must do all we can to enable people to take responsibility for their own and their family's weight, to eat healthily and take regular exercise.”
The National Child Measurement Programme (NC-MP) also studied the weight of 5,785 reception age children in Worcestershire, with figures for that age group also showing an improvement.
The stats show 9.1 per cent of four to five-year-olds are now obese, down from 10 per cent the previous year.
Nationally the proportion of year six primary school children who are obese or overweight has fallen for the first time in six years, according to the report by Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).
The overall rate stands at 33.3 per cent, compared to 33.9 per cent the previous year.
34.8 per cent of year six boys are overweight or obese compared to 31.8 per cent of girls.
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