Over one quarter of Harrogate children leaving primary school overweight

Primary school children stock image
Primary school children stock image

Around 480 children in Harrogate are leaving primary school obese or overweight, a recent study has found.

A report by the Health and Social Care Information Centre found that around 27 per cent of year six children in Harrogate were obese or overweight.

Around 20 per cent of children in Harrogate were also found to be obese or overweight when they were entering reception.

However, the report found that in both age ranges, Harrogate was below the national average with almost 22 per cent of reception children and 33.2 per cent of year six children overweight.

The report has prompted the British Heart Foundation (BHF) to call for a ban on all junk food TV advertising before 9pm to help improve children's health.

Wales' health minister has also previously called on the UK Goverment to intervene on junk food adverts airing to millions of children during popular shows.

He argued soft drinks were the main contributor, with chocolate, cereals, biscuits, buns, cakes and pastries all making significant contributions.

The BHF has revealed weak regulations were creating loopholes meaning food companies could advertise junk food - high in fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt - during programmes.

Mike Hobday, Director of Policy at the BHF, said: “It’s worrying that so many children in Harrogate are obese or overweight. Carrying excess weight into adulthood increases the risk of developing heart disease in later life.

“We mustn’t allow food companies to continue to exploit a failing regulatory system that allows them to bombard TV screens with junk food adverts at the times when the highest numbers of children are watching TV.

"We need to protect young people against the sophisticated marketing techniques of junk food advertisers to help tackle the obesity crisis which threatens the heart health of future generations.”

During one X Factor show in 2015, 13 junk food adverts were shown promoting unhealthy snacks such as crisps, chocolate bars and pizzas to the children watching before 9pm.

Current regulations mean that foods high in fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar are banned from being advertised during children’s programming.

But the latest Ofcom figures show that two-thirds (65%) of children watch TV during what is considered adult airtime.

As a result, BHF has accused the current regulations of 'failing families' and has echoed calls for the Government to ban junk food advertising before 9pm as part of a robust Childhood Obesity Strategy, expected later this month.