CHILDREN living in Hart are less likely to be obese than other areas of the country according to statistics published by the government.

A House of Commons briefing paper on obesity statistics, published in August, shows that in England one in 10 children is obese by the age of five, rising to one in five by the age of 11.

However, deprived children are more likely to be obese, with this gap rising.

The statistics from an Active Lives Survey by Publish Health England show areas of the country where children carrying excess weight is highest and lowest, with Hart among the lowest.

An estimate of 15.7 per cent of reception aged children living in Hart are overweight or obese, compared to 31.2 per cent in Barrow-in-Furness, in Cumbria, which had the highest level of obesity for this age group.

For year six children, Hart came ninth lowest in the country, with an estimate of 23.7 per cent of children overweight or obese compared to 44.5 per cent in Barking and Dagenham.

The local authority areas with the lowest overweight children were Guildford and Waverley, both in Surrey.

The report said: “The National Child Measurement Programme shows that 9.5 per cent of reception age children in England (age four to five) were obese in 2017/18, with a further 12.8 per cent overweight. These proportions were higher among year six children (age 10 to 11) with 20.1 per cent being obese and 14.2 per cent overweight.”

It added: “Children living in deprived areas are substantially more likely to be obese. Among reception children, 6.4 per cent of those in the least deprived areas are obese compared with 12.4 per cent of those in the most deprived areas. In year six, 13.3 per cent of children in the least deprived areas are obese, compared with 26.7 per cent in the most deprived areas. So, in both age groups, children in the most deprived areas are approximately twice as likely to be obese. Rates of severely obese children are around three times higher in the most deprived areas.”

Figures from Hart District Council show that earnings of those living in the area are around one-third higher than the overall England figure, with residents earning on average more than £647 a week.

Estimates of the economic cost of obesity to the NHS was £4.2 billion in 2007, forecast to rise to £6.3 billion in 2015, £8.3 billion in 2025 and £9.7 billion in 2050.