Data set to be discussed by a committee of councillors this week has suggested Leeds is bucking the national trend of obesity in very young children, with obesity rates among reception children reducing over the last five years.
However, the report warned there was limited help available for families wanting to make better health choices.
It stated that five-year aggregate data for Leeds shows childhood obesity rates among reception-aged children have reduced, principally among those living in the more disadvantaged areas.
Rates for Leeds children in year six were also lower than those nationally – however, the greatest reductions were among children living in more affluent areas.
Data showed that obesity rates among children in reception remained steadily below the national average over the past five years, with an average of 8.93 percent between 2011 and 2017, as opposed to the national average during that time of 9.38.
The report added: “Nationally children are becoming obese at an earlier age, staying obese for longer and children from lower income household are more than twice as likely to be obese than those in high income households.
“Obesity in children is associated with a number of health conditions including asthma and other respiratory problems, early puberty and some cancers.
“Often of greater significance to young people, obesity is linked as both a cause and consequence of psychological disorders such as anxiety, poor self-esteem, poor body image and eating disorders.”
Although the results for Leeds were encouraging, the report claimed more needs to be done to give council staff confidence to raise the issue and help families affected.
It added that engagement with schools was limited, as they were focussed on educational attainment, and that limited funding was available for projects such as cooking sessions for families.
The report will be discussed at Leeds City Council’s children and families scrutiny board on Wednesday, March 6.