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Low levels of child obesity in Hart

Just 18% of young school children in Hart were classed as obese last year and 26.6% of older school children

Hart has one of the lowest levels of child obesity in the country, figures show.

The district that covers the communities of Fleet and Yateley has fewer overweight and obese primary school aged children than neighbouring Rushmoor, Waverley, Bracknell Forest and Surrey Heath.

In 2012/13 in Hart, 18% of the youngest school children were classed as overweight and obese and 26.6% of the oldest school children were classed as overweight and obese.

Hart was rated at number 348 on a list of 359 areas in England – 359 being the area with the lowest level of obesity.

Rushmoor was placed in the top 100 of the national list, with 20.8% of the youngest children overweight and obese and 30.6% of the older children classes as such.

However, even though Rushmoor had a much higher percentage of child obesity than Hart, levels had reduced a lot compared to the previous year.

Rushmoor obesity levels in reception age children was 11.5% lower than in 2011/12 and obesity levels in Year 6 age children was 8.6% down on 2011/12.

Peter Amies, head of community at Rushmoor Borough Council, said: “The statistics are worrying, locally and nationally.

“But there are lots of governmental programmes such as Fit For Life promoted in television adverts to try and encourage people to eat less and eat healthier."

Tackling the trend

He said all councils were aware of the issue and were coming up with more and more initiatives to reduce the problem.

“To encourage young people to get more physically active, we at Rushmoor provide free swimming for the under 16s during the school holidays and free transport to help them get to places.

“We have invested in cycle routes to encourage children to ride to school and for pleasure.

“We work alongside Sport Hampshire and Isle of Wight where sporting competition finals are held annually in Aldershot in June.

“We also run a Cook And Eat programme to teach time-pressured parents to cook nutritious meals for the whole family.”

Mr Amies also said free school meals, provided by Hampshire County Council, and breakfast clubs were important for financially disadvantaged children.

The data, which comes from the government’s national child measurement programme, showed Guildford borough had the lowest level of obesity compared to all of the 359 areas in England with 17.5% of pupils of reception class age overweight and obese and 26.9% Year 6 overweight and obese.

In Surrey Heath, rated at number 296, 20.1% of reception age children were overweight and obese and 23.7% of Year 6 age pupils were too.

Waverley, rated at 347, saw 16.8% of reception children overweight while 24.5% of Year 6 children overweight and obese.

In Bracknell Forest, which was rated at 290, 19.3% of reception children were overweight and 27.1% of Year 6 children were obese and overweight.

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