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Shock report on obesity in North Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 13:51 06 February 2008 | UPDATED: 08:50 13 July 2010

RURAL areas of North Norfolk and Sheringham in particular are singled out this week in a new survey spotlighting Norfolk's overweight youngsters.

The ground-breaking study of 12,000 pupils across the county shatters the commonly-held assumption that obesity hotspots are centred on deprived urban areas.

RURAL areas of North Norfolk and Sheringham in particular are singled out this week in a new survey spotlighting Norfolk's overweight youngsters.

The ground-breaking study of 12,000 pupils across the county shatters the commonly-held assumption that obesity hotspots are centred on deprived urban areas.

For while Norwich, King's Lynn and Yarmouth are highlighted as areas where a high number of children are overweight or obese, so is the relatively affluent resort of Sheringham.

The findings also tie in with claims from a leading paediatrician earlier this year that middle-class parents are fuelling obesity by feeding children as young as two with fatty and sugary recipes inspired by celebrity chefs.

The new study done by Norfolk Primary Care Trust, with support from the county council, and will offer a blueprint for tackling childhood obesity in the county.

It will enable health trusts and local authorities to effectively target resources at the problem, which nationwide could see one in five children rated as obese by the end of the decade if no action is taken.

Jon Cox, who led the project for the PCT, said: “It was an unexpected result to find that deprivation - for example low income, poor health and education - is not strongly linked to levels of obese and overweight children.

“People tend to assume that obese children are more likely to come from the deprived areas. We can now disprove this assumption; we now know that in Norfolk children with unhealthy weights are equally likely to come from an affluent or a deprived background.”

The PCT's health improvement specialist Lucy MacLeod said the number of obese and overweight children rose as they progressed through school.

“That's an important message to all of us about our children's eating habits as soon as they enter an environment where they get a greater level of choice over what they eat - outside of the home.”

The main causes of obesity - which can result in diabetes and liver disease - were identified as a lack of exercise and a high calorie diet with too much fatty food and sugar.

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