Nearly half of Newham’s Year 6 pupils overweight or obese

Reception-age pupils in Barking and Dagenham are the fattest in London Photo: Chris Radburn/PA

Reception-age pupils in Barking and Dagenham are the fattest in London Photo: Chris Radburn/PA - Credit: PA WIRE

Nearly half of all children leaving primary school in the borough are overweight or obese, newly released figures show – the highest proportion in the capital.

Newham has the highest proportion of unhealthily large 10- to 11-year-old pupils in London – and one of the highest in the country – at 43 per cent, according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

Last year the proportion was 40pc, and in 2011–12 it was 39, showing a slight increase.

Across England, 33pc of Year 6 children are overweight or obese.

One in four (25pc) reception pupils in Newham, meanwhile, are in the category, compared with 22pc across the country.

The data are obtained by measuring children’s height and weight and then calculating their body mass index (BMI).

Sarah Lack, headteacher of Cleves Primary School, in Arragon Road, said her school was working hard to tackle obesity.

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“We try to use breakfast clubs for children,” she said. “We target certain pupils during lessons and run fitness sessions before and after school.

“But poverty drives it – cheap food, too many chicken shops and too little access to education about healthy eating.

“We always work with parents to discuss health issues and we’ll continue to do that.”

Comparing the capital’s boroughs, Southwark is level with Newham for Year 6 pupils and Tower Hamlets is just behind with 42pc of 10- and 11-year-old pupils obese or overweight.

Richmond upon Thames has the lowest proportion at 22pc.

For reception pupils, Barking and Dagenham and Greenwhich join Newham among the heaviest boroughs, while Kingston upon Thames is lightest with 15pc.

A spokesperson for Newham Council said: “We are doing all we can to tackle this issue and give our children the best start in life.

“We provide a universal free school meals programme which ensures every primary school child can receive a healthy and nutritious free school meal and our every child a sportsperson initiative supports young people to take up a new sporting activity.

“These figures should act as a wake-up call to government, their brutal cuts to our budget and that of public health’s will make it even more difficult for us to bring these figures down.”