A third of year six children are overweight

Dr Andrew Furber, director of public health.
Dr Andrew Furber, director of public health.

One in three of the district’s children is overweight by the time they leave primary school - according to a report which urges action to tackle an obesity epidemic.

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.”

Dr Furber’s report highlights wide differences in childhood obesity levels between different parts of the district.

It said: “Levels of healthy weight vary considerably throughout the district. 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.

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.