CHILDREN are more likely to be obese when they leave Oldham's primary schools as they were a decade ago, figures show.

A new report from Public Health England looking back over the last 10 years has concluded there is a strong link between obesity and the poorest areas in the country.

NHS Digital data shows 27 per cent of Year 6 pupils in Oldham were classed as obese in 2019-20, up from 18 per cent in 2009-10 and higher than the national average which was 21 per cent in 2019-20.

It was a similar picture for children in reception with the proportion who were obese increasing slightly to 12 per cent in 2019-20, from 10 per cent a decade before.

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

Oldham has one of the highest proportions of England's most deprived neighbourhoods, according to the Index of Multiple Deprivation – a measure of living conditions based on factors including health.

In a bid to tackle obesity, Alexandra Park Primary School in Oldham has strongly intertwined PSHE and PE curriculums.

The school on Brook Lane also aims to develop body confidence in pupils amid a sharp rise in the number of children with eating disorders in the UK.

The school’s PSHE leader, Samantha Hickling, said: “In Year 5 where I teach, we really focus on how the media can affect how you feel about your body. Not everyone can look 'magazine perfect' and it is important our children recognise that their bodies will change - that during life they may not have the body they want.

She added: “It is a delicate balancing act between body acceptance and being healthy and it is one that children need help to learn. We are there to support our pupils in finding that balance.”

Simon Clarke, the PE leader, sets weekly warmups that are a key part of the school’s weekly assemblies and runs the school’s Daily Mile programme.

He said: "Our school has always focused on being a healthy school. It's been part of our mission to ensure everyone has equal opportunities to be able to access sport as part of getting a healthier lifestyle.

“We put a lot of work into ensuring our children leave us knowing how to be healthy: healthy body, healthy mind equals a healthy them."