RECEPTION children in Barrow are among the most overweight and obese in the north west, according to figures.

Nearly 30 per cent of four- and five-year-olds in the borough are classed as overweight or obese.

It puts the area top in the county and joint second in the north west alongside Blackpool and behind Knowsley for obese and overweight reception children.

Nearly 33 per cent of children in Year Six classes have been classed as such, which is among the lowest rate in north west.

Only South Lakeland has a lower percentage of overweight and obese Year Six children in Cumbria than Barrow.

The statistics come as a result of tests of hundreds of children.

Judgements on weight are made through the Body Mass Index relation of height and weight of the child.

The figures, released under the National Child Measurement Programme come as the Government announced plans to tackle obesity across the country.

Some parents see BMI as a flawed way to judge a child as overweight.

An adult with a BMI of 25 to 30 is classed as overweight and one with a BMI of 30 or over is obese.

But a child’s BMI can naturally change as they grow up.

There is no fixed BMI cut off for a child to be judged as overweight or obese, instead their BMI is also compared to the range of other BMIs seen for children of the same age and sex through growth charts.

A spokesman for Cumbria County Council pointed out that the prevalence of obesity for reception and Year Six children had decreased from the year.

He said: “We recognise that in districts this picture can be different and we’re working closely with partners, including district councils, Early Years settings and Active Cumbria, to promote healthy weight.

“Excess sugar is a key cause of unhealthy weight gain and can also lead to other issues like painful tooth decay and diabetes.

“It’s important families control their sugar consumption.

“We understand that reducing the amount of sugar children consume can often be a challenge for parents, we recommend looking at the fun swaps recommended by Change4Life which make it easier for families to find healthier versions of the foods they enjoy.”

The Government’s Childhood Obesity Plan was announced in an effort to tackle the issue nationwide.

It plans to help improve the nutritional content of the food and drink our children consume, strengthen information available to parents about those products and change how unhealthy food and sugary drinks are promoted.