Croydon, Hackney, Lewisham and Tower Hamlets have some of the highest proportions of obese children in the country, a report shows.
The National Child Measurement Programme released a report last week. It revealed the Eastlondonlines boroughs to be at least 2.5 and 5.6 per cent higher than the current national average obesity rates in children aged 4- 5 and 10-11 respectively.
Of the 159 areas surveyed, the four boroughs ranked in the top quarter for child obesity.
Hackney has the largest proportion of obese reception-aged children in the country, standing at 14 per cent.
The report argues that there is a strong link between deprivation in an area and childhood obesity.
While 6.6 per cent of reception children in the least deprived areas are obese, the figure rose to 12 per cent in the most deprived areas.
The same results occur in pupils aged between 10 and 11-years-old. 13.1 per cent are obese in more affluent areas compared to 24.7 per cent in the poorest communities.
Tam Fry, a spokesperson for the National Obesity Forum, said: “The inequality between richer and poorer areas in terms of the prevalence of childhood obesity is shocking.”
“It’s appalling that despite the many billions of pounds that have been thrown at this problem, children in the most deprived areas have had no real chance to come out of this downward spiral.”
Hackney councillor Jonathan McShane, Cabinet Member for Health, Social Care and Culture believes councils are already doing their fair share.
He said: “Through programmes like Health Heroes that runs in schools, our free Hackney Active Kids guide and Shift’s innovative healthy fast food project…school children and their parents are encouraged to make healthier choices and lead more active lives.”
Critics, however, believe more should be done at a local level.
Charlotte George, Green Party candidate for Hackney, said: “Local governments should be lobbying and working with national government to make changes where they do not have the power to intervene directly… Banning fast food outlets within 400 meters of any school (including in shopping centres) would be a start.”
Tower Hamlets has the tenth highest proportion of obese 10-11 year olds in the country.
Nevertheless, a Tower Hamlets council spokesperson said: “It is encouraging to see the continued downward trend in the levels of obesity amongst 4-5 year olds in Tower Hamlets since measurement began in 2006/2007.”
“Furthermore, this year’s data suggests that there has been a levelling off of obesity levels amongst 10-11 year olds in Tower Hamlets since 2008/ 2009.”
While the problem does seem to be getting under control, around 80 per cent of obese 11-year-olds go on to become obese adults and thereby vastly increase their risk of heart disease.