Dartford and Gravesham in obesity crisis
More obese children live in Dartford and Gravesham than anywhere else in Kent.
Figures released by the Health & Social Care Information Centre show how children across the country weighed in.
In Kent, more than 15,000 children aged four and five, in Reception Year, and more than 14,000 children aged 10-11, in Year 6, were measured and placed into one of four categories: underweight, healthy weight, overweight or obese.
The survey was country-wide, and the proportion of obese children in Kent was lower than the national average.
However, Dartford and Gravesham have a higher percentage of obese children compared to Kent and the national average.
More than one in five Year 6 children, and one in 10 of reception age, in Dartford and Gravesham are obese.
But it is not just obesity which is an issue – for 10 to 11-year-olds, the percentage of underweight children in Gravesham and Dartford is also higher than the county average.
At 1.6% underweight, Gravesham also has more underweight children than the national average of 1.3%.
As a nation, the proportion of obese children, from both age ranges, has reduced from last year. But overall, for the Year 6 children across both boroughs, less than two thirds are considered to be a healthy weight, at around 62%.
This is compared to the county average of 66% and the national average of 65%.
Dartford MP Gareth Johnson said: “As a parent myself I have experienced the challenges involved in trying to drag your child away from the Xbox, computer games, and plasma screens in order to get them to do some exercise.
“Most people agree this is something we need to address but parents do not want lectures from government but tips and suggestions.
“There is a lot of work being carried out in schools and in the community generally that seeks to promote a healthy lifestyle. This work should continue to be supported.”
A spokeswoman for The Gr@nd Healthy Living Centre in Gravesend said: “Childhood obesity is not just a Gravesham and Dartford issue, it is a national problem as people move less and eat more convenience foods which are usually higher in fat and sugar.
“The good news is that there is lots of support and advice.
“We need to tackle people’s misconceptions. People think that eating well and getting active means only eating boring food, running marathons and spending lots of money on ingredients and gym membership.”
Experts at Dartford’s Healthy Living Centre and Gravesham’s The Gr@nd encouraged people to seek health advice.
Both health centres run a free, fun programme for families called Don’t Sit Get Fit, funded by Kent County Council.
With the help of an activity coordinator and nutrition workshops, families can become healthier together.
For more information on the programmes and advice available at the Dartford centre, visit www.hlcdartford.org.uk or call 01322 311265.
The Grand is also running a Run a Mile with a Smile 10-week exercise course to help people run a mile.
The main goal is to be able to run in the Sport Relief Gravesham Mile event, raising money for charity on March 23 at the Cyclopark.
The adult course starts at Cygnets Leisure centre this Monday, January 13 , 10am-11am.
The family course at Northfleet youth centre starts next Thursday, January 16, 6pm-7pm.
For more information email email@example.com or call 01474 320123.