Britain’s childhood obesity crisis is now so grave that more than 50 per cent of children are overweight or obese upon leaving primary school in some areas, new figures show.
Camberwell Green in South London was yesterday revealed as the first neighbourhood where more children have a BMI of 25 or above than are healthy, according to Public Health England.
The ward, which saw a seven per cent increase in the number of takeaway outlets between 2014 and 2017, ranks alongside eight others in London that make up the top ten worst areas in the country.
The data was published as Theresa May promised further Government action if current strategies fail to turn the situation around.
She spoke after facing calls from opposition parties, coordinated by Jamie Oliver, to introduce a 9pm watershed for junk food advertising on television, as well as controls on streetside advertising and on public transport.
The latest figures, which were collated via the National Child Measurement Programme, showed 50.9 per cent of Year 6 children in Camberwell Green are overweight or obese, with Newington the second worst area in England at 49.7 per cent.
Last night Britain’s top child doctor called on local councils to “urgently” take advantage of planning laws to improve the food environment.
Professor Russell Viner, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “There looks to be a link between how obesogenic an environment is and deprivation, with unhealthy food often the cheapest.
“Boroughs in the worst areas urgently need to sort out their food environment.”
His comments came a week after the college called for a ban on fast food outlets opening within 400 metres of a school
Of the 10 best local areas for Year 6 measurements, where overweight and obese rates ranged from 11.6 to 14.9 per cent, three were in well-off areas of Surrey and another four were in Bath and North East Somerset.
The Prime Minister is coming under increasing pressure to strengthen measures aimed at tackling childhood obesity.
Yesterday a joint letter from opposition leaders called for 13 new measures, including a ban on buy-one-get-one-free junk food deals.
Jamie Oliver, who coordinated the letter, said: “If kids are constantly being targeted with cheap, easily accessible, unhealthy junk food, just think how hard it must be to make better, healthier choices.
"We have to make it easier for children to make good decisions.
"These ads undermine any positive work we're doing in schools or at home to tackle the rise of childhood obesity.
"Currently, there's nothing in place to protect our kids from seeing these adverts - apart from literally covering their eyes!”
Mrs May described the Government's plans to tackle childhood obesity as "world-leading", pointing to efforts to reduce the levels of sugar eaten by people and to guarantee exercise for primary schoolchildren.
"Our soft drinks industry levy - that's bold action we're taking,” she said during Prime Minister’s Questions.
“Our sugar reduction programme is going to cut the amounts of sugar consumed by young people. And of course we're putting in plans in relation to the amount of exercise that primary schoolchildren get every day.
"Those steps will make a real difference and a real help in reversing the problem that has been decades in the making.”