More children are likely to be obese when they leave Swindon’s primary schools than a decade ago, figures have revealed.

Public Health England has released a new report looking back over the last ten years, concluding there is a strong link between obesity and the poorest areas in the country.

NHS Digital data shows 21 per cent of Year 6 pupils in Swindon were classed as obese in 2019-20, up from 17 percent in 2009-10. And it was a similar picture for children in reception with the proportion who were obese increasing slightly to 11 per cent in 2019-20, from 9 per cent a decade before.

The borough’s director of public health Steve Maddern said: “Childhood obesity is a national and local issue, and we know that maintaining a healthy weight is an important part of our general health.

“In Swindon we want our children to be happy and healthy. To do this, we have a range of ways to support the healthy weight of children including our Healthy Schools and Healthy Early Years programmes, our Healthy Families activities and Healthy Eating programme alongside support from our health visitors and schools nurses to local families."

Across England obesity among Year 6 pupils rose from 19 per cent in 2009-10 to 21 per cent in 2019-20. The figures come from the National Child Measurement Programme which records the height and weight of a sample of children in reception and Year 6 in state-maintained schools to assess childhood obesity.

PHE said rising levels of childhood obesity in deprived areas were offsetting progress seen in more prosperous areas.

Dr Alison Tedstone, PHE’s chief nutritionist, said: “Obesity is complex and is influenced by a range of factors, including education, income and the places that people live in, which may in part explain why we are seeing more overweight children in the most deprived areas.”

She added: “Too many children are living with obesity, threatening their future mental and physical health. Bold measures are needed to tackle this.”

They include a grant being offered to councils for child weight management services and pressure on the food industry to produce healthier products.

But the NHS Confederation, a membership body for NHS organisations, said further action was urgently needed, including the restricting of fast food shops near schools and opening of more play areas and parks.The group also wants the VAT rate raised on unhealthy foods.

Dr Layla McCay, director of policy, said: “Obesity costs the NHS more than £6 billion per year and affects people’s health throughout their lives, so it’s vital that the Government goes further and does more.”

Caroline Cerny, alliance lead at Obesity Health Alliance, said more deprived areas may not have safe and well-maintained outdoor areas for children to play, or shops selling healthier food.

She added: “Previous government efforts to reduce child obesity have focused on awareness and education. But research is clear that this approach is ineffective and does nothing address the structural causes of inequality.”

Information and fun ideas to help children stay healthy can be found at Change4Life on”