CHILDREN in Mid Devon are leaving primary school overweight as the district is rated the worst in the county for childhood obesity and above the national average.
Devon County Council’s first annual health report, published on Tuesday, has revealed that all local targets for obesity among year six pupils were missed in 2011-12.
About 37% of ten to 11 year olds in Mid Devon are classified as overweight or obese, with boys more likely to be obese than girls.
This figure is significantly above the average for the county which sits at about 31% and is also higher than the national average of about 34%.
West Devon and Teignbridge were second and third worst in the county for obesity among ten to to 11 year olds with about 34% and 32% respectively and South Hams has the lowest rate at 26.5%.
But a county council spokeswoman said the findings for Mid Devon needed to be put in perspective.
She told The Star: “They are only slightly above the national average, and we are talking about a fairlysmall number, which of course has abig impact on percentage levels.
“So this shouldn’t be seen as a significant problem but more an early warning that we need to put in some work now before it does become an issue.
“We’re already working closely with district councils and partners in health and the voluntary sector, through the health and wellbeing board, whose priorities include tackling childhood obesity and promoting healthy eating and healthy activities.
“We also do targeted work with families and in schools through specific projects, which are all about making positive food, activity and lifestyle choices.”
She added that childhood obesity is now one of the council’s top priorities as it sets about working with MidDevon District Council on its public health plan.
The report, the first since the county council took over responsibility for public health, was collated using the most recent figures from the National Child Measurement Programme.
These show that obesity in the county has been static for many years and projections for the future show no predicted decrease in the rate. Experts believe it will stay at about 31% until at least 2015.