CHILDHOOD obesity rates in Barnsley are worse than what they were before the Covid-19 pandemic, new figures have revealed.

NHS Digital figures show 760 of 2,885 year six pupils measured in Barnsley were classed as obese or severely obese in 2022/23.

It meant 26.3 per cent of ten and 11 year olds were in the highest two BMI categories as they prepared to leave primary school.

This was up from 25.5 per cent the year before and above pre-pandemic levels of 19.3 per cent in 2019/20.

Across England, 22.7 per cent of year six pupils were obese or severely obese - down on the 23.4 per cent recorded the year previous, but still above pre-pandemic figures.

The data comes from the government’s annual National Child Measurement Programme - part of its approach to tackling obesity - which records the height and weight of year six and reception-age children in state-maintained schools across England to monitor obesity trends.

The Obesity Health Alliance urged the government to incentivise companies to produce healthier products and restrict children from being ‘bombarded with manipulative advertising’.

Katharine Jenner, director of the OHA, said: “All children have a right to grow up healthy, regardless of their circumstances.”

Ms Jenner added people want easy, healthy options, and said if the government was to incentivise companies to produce healthier products and restrict advertising financially, ‘it will have a disproportional benefit on those struggling to get by, freeing them from the harm caused by unhealthy food and drink’.

Last year, Barnsley became the first town in the north of England to implement restrictions on junk food advertising.

The council’s measures, developed in collaboration with food charity Sustain, have been introduced to protect the health and adults and children - and they’ll be in place across all of their advertising estate.

Being the first authority in the north of England to implement the policy, restrictions will limit advertising on all Barnsley Council-owned or leased advertising sites.

This serves to protect children and adults from exposure to high fat, salt or sugar advertising, which can influence what people eat and drink, as well as how much.

The Department for Health and Social Care said it is committing to halving childhood obesity rates in 2030.

A government spokesperson said: “We have already brought in measures to reduce the amount of sugar and salt in foods, particularly those aimed at children and our soft drinks industry levy has nearly halved the amount of sugar in soft drinks, while the sugar reduction programme has significantly reduced the amount of sugar in foods popular with children - including breakfast cereals and yoghurts.( “By investing £320m a year in school sports we are promoting healthier lifestyles through physical activity and through schemes like Healthy Start, which encourage a healthy diet for families from lower-income households.”