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Nearly a quarter of Scottish kids starting school overweight or obese

Obesity - PA

Nearly a quarter of Scottish kids starting school overweight or obese

A quarter of children in Scotland are starting primary one at risk of being overweight or obese, figures have shown.

Official body mass index figures from NHS Scotland’s stats body, ISD, show 22.4 per cent of primary one children were above the healthy weight range.

Children in the unhealthy category are identified as ‘at risk’ rather than being classified as overweight or obese because it is also compared to how fast they are growing.

Only 1.1 per cent are identified as being at risk of being underweight.

The proportion of children at risk of being overweight or obese has remained constant since 2001, but it has polarised between rich and poor, with children from the most deprived areas more at risk while the numbers have gone down in the least deprived areas.

Obesity figures show 12.9 per cent of the ‘most deprived’ primary ones are at risk, compared to 6.5 per cent of the ‘least deprived’ primary ones.

With obesity linked to heart disease, cancer and poor mental health, progress on the issue is being seen as a significant public health challenge, with the Scottish Government promising to halve the rate by 2030.

Professor Linda Bauld, Cancer Research UK's cancer prevention expert, said: “When we’re seeing so many children as young as four overweight and obese, it’s clear the need for urgent action has never been greater.

“Supermarket multibuy offers on junk food and sugary drinks are fuelling this alarming trend, encouraging us to stock up on unhealthy food.

“Introducing laws to restrict harmful price promotions would be one of the most effective ways to help families shop more healthily, helping us to stack the odds of not getting cancer in our favour.”

A Scottish government spokesman said: "The consequences of an unhealthy diet and physical inactivity are amongst the most serious public health issues facing many countries.

“We're determined to improve Scotland's diet, increase the number of people with a healthy weight, and support more people to be more active, more often.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “It's really worrying to learn that children’s backgrounds continue to have such a serious influence over their health. These statistics ought to ring alarm bells for ministers.”

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