Kingston has the lowest obesity rate for reception children in the country according to statistics for 2016-17 released by NHS Digital last week.
Only 4.8 per cent of four to five-year olds in Kingston – around one in 20 – is obese, compared to a national average of 9.6 per cent, or almost one in 10.
Kingston has been well below the national average for reception children since 2010 and although figures for England have remained fairly stagnant, Kingston’s child obesity rate has steadily decreased over this period.
Barrow in Furness, Cumbria, has the highest obesity rate for reception children in the country at 14.4 per cent. Figures also vary greatly across London from Kingston at 4.8 per cent to Brent and Southwark which share the highest rate of 13.3 per cent.
Paula Hallam, a paediatric dietician who runs clinics in Surbiton and Walton, said: “It’s encouraging that the figures for Kingston have decreased, but it’s a worrying national statistic.”
Hallam, who formerly worked at Great Ormond Street Hospital, said differences in affluence were likely responsible for the variation.
“I think the differences are mainly due to deprivation as we know the higher obesity rates occur in the most deprived areas.
“But I don’t think we fully understand all the reasons behind this, it must be multi factorial.
“Kingston is mostly a very affluent area,” she said.
The NHS Digital report on the statistics said: “Obesity prevalence for children living in the most deprived areas was more than double that of those living in the least deprived areas.”
The data was collected by the National Child Measurement Programme, which measures the height and weight of over one million children in reception and year six annually.
The obesity rate for year six children (aged 10-11) in Kingston has also fallen from 17 per cent in 2016 to 15.4 per cent in 2017. The current national average is 20 per cent.
The report’s findings are welcome news for Kingston primary schools, many of which participate in the Healthy Schools London awards programme and encourage their students to maintain healthy lifestyles.
Janet Berry, headteacher at Coombe Hill Infant’s School, said it views lunchtimes as “an important part of the school learning day”.
“Children are encouraged to try new foods and are rewarded for doing so. They try to make their plate as colourful as possible from our Rainbow Café, and in doing so have a healthy and varied diet,” she said.