CHILDREN in West Berkshire are among the least likely to develop obesity by the age of five, new research has revealed.
According to the report from the National Children’s Bureau, 6.4 per cent (126) of four and five-year-olds in the district are obese – making West Berkshire joint third lowest in the UK (along with Bracknell Forest).
The district’s children are also less likely to have trouble in the dentist’s chair when compared to those in other parts of the country with 17.2 per cent (329 children) having tooth decay.
Children in Leicester are most likely to have dental problems, with tooth decay affecting 51 per cent of five-year-olds.
West Berkshire also came out favourably in respect of the number of children considered to have made a good level of development by the end of reception class with 61.9 per cent being judged as ready for the step up to school.
Chairman of the council’s health and wellbeing board, Graham Jones (Con, Lambourn), said: “I’m not surprised that West Berkshire has such good figures.
“The area has a very good health record across all age ranges, however, that said we do have our hotspots for obesity and dental issues and it’s important that we work to make sure that everyone has the best start in life.
“We have invested in health promotion campaigns, such as brushing for life, to make sure children in the district are informed about the importance of diet or looking after their teeth.”
The report shows that the health and development of children under five is closely linked to the affluence of the area they grow up in, with those living in deprived areas far more likely to suffer poor health.
For instance only 18.4 per cent of children living in the 30 richest areas suffer from tooth decay, this rises substantially to 31.6 per cent of four to five-year-olds in the 30 most deprived areas.
Mr Jones continued: “Yes, there are areas of West Berkshire that are affluent, as the report says, but some of the rural areas of the district have health issues we have to overcome.
“It’s down to a mixture of parents, health professionals and West Berkshire Council doing what we can to educate children and make sure that they all have the best start in life.”