THE mayor of Copeland said children's wellbeing was paramount after it emerged obesity levels were still soaring in Cumbria.

Mike Starkie said Copeland council offers discounted gym membership for families on low income.

It comes after figures released by the NHS revealed that 15.3 per cent of reception children in Cumbria are overweight and 10.2 per cent are obese.

The percentage of overweight children in Copeland is below the county's average, at 13.4 per cent, and 10.1 per cent are obese.

However, the national average for obese children of this age is 9.7 per cent.

Mayor Starkie said: "We all have a role to play in tackling childhood obesity.

"Our contract with Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) ensures that families on low income receive discounted access to their local sport and leisure facilities.

“We play an integral role on the Copeland Health and Wellbeing Forum with partners Cumbria County Council and Active Cumbria, amongst others, to promote a substantial amount of projects related to healthy lifestyles.

“We recognise the paramount importance of putting children’s best interest at heart in Copeland and we will continue to work with our partners to help ensure children grow up in a safe, healthy and happy environment.”

The Government said children from deprived areas are more likely to be obese.

In Allerdale 14.8 of reception children were found to be overweight and 13.1 obese, which is well above the county's average.

And Carlisle recorded the second highest percentage of overweight children, closely after Barrow, with 17 per cent.

But the obesity rate in the city is lower than the national average, at 9.2 per cent.

A spokesman for Cumbria County Council said: “The latest National Child Measurement Programme shows decreases for the prevalence of obesity at both reception and Year 6 for Cumbria.

"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.”

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