Obesity crisis in the district as one in three year 6 pupils is overweight

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A third of the district’s children are overweight by the time they leave primary school.

Latest figures show 22 per cent of reception-age children in the Wakefield district are overweight, rising to 33 per cent by year six.

Among adults, almost seven out of 10 are overweight or classed as being obese - compared to the average figure of 62 per cent for England.

An annual report by Dr Andrew Furber, the district’s director of public health, said rising obesity levels could cost the UK health service an extra £45.5bn a year by 2050.

The report also warns of the physical and mental health problems obesity can lead to.

It said: “Being overweight can affect your confidence or be a result of low self-esteem. This is especially true for young people.

“There is growing evidence that being obese can lead to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.

“Obesity is also a major contributing factor to a range of physical illnesses such as heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes and cancer.” There were also wide differences in childhood obesity levels between different parts of the district.

The report said: “Whilst there are things individuals can do wherever they live, there is the case for targeted support in wards where the challenge is the greatest.”

Wakefield College students did research into healthy living as part of the report.

A survey by students of their peers found that 25 per cent did no physical activity or less than an hour a day.

There are also differences in eating habits between students at the college’s Wakefield and Castleford campuses.

At Castleford, 55 per cent ate crisps daily, compared to 40 per cent at Wakefield. Some 73 per cent of Castleford students consumed fizzy or energy drinks daily. The Wakefield figure was 54 per cent.

And Castleford students were twice as likely to rarely or never to eat fruit and vegetables - 42 per cent compared with 21 per cent in Wakefield.

The report, entitled Dangerous Waist, said adults were at risk of health problems if their waist size was more than 40 inches in men and 34.5 inches among women. It recommends that employers take action to make workplaces healthier.

Wakefield Council was taking action to control the number of fastfood outlets and encourage walking in the district’s parks.