Around 32 per cent of Year Six children in the East Midlands are obese or overweight, according to new statistics.
Today’s figures mean there are about 16,000 children in the East Midlands leaving primary school obese or overweight.
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) is now calling for a ban on all junk food being advertised on TV before 9pm.
Current regulations mean that foods high in fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar are banned from being advertised during children’s programming.
But latest Ofcom figures show that two-thirds (65%) of children watch TV during what is considered adult airtime. Peak viewing for children is between 7pm and 8pm when up to 1.8 million children are watching TV.
Mike Hobday, director of policy at the BHF, said: “It’s worrying that so many children in the East Midlands are obese or overweight. Carrying excess weight into adulthood increases the risk of developing heart disease in later life.
“We must not allow food companies to continue to exploit a failing regulatory system that allows them to bombard TV screens with junk food adverts at the times when the highest numbers of children are watching TV.
“We need to protect young people against the sophisticated marketing techniques of junk food advertisers to help tackle the obesity crisis which threatens the heart health of future generations.”
One of the most popular programmes for children is the X Factor with up to 1.2 million children aged 4-15 watching.
During last year’s series, the BHF says it found adverts for foods high in fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar, such as Cadbury chocolate, Doritos crisps, Kinder chocolate, Chicago Town pizzas and Haribo sweets, all of which are banned during children’s programming.
BHF says current regulations are ‘failing’ families in the East Midlands because they are allowing junk food companies to target children with advertising that would be banned during children’s programming.