Latest statistics have revealed that almost a third of children in Lancaster leave primary school obese or overweight.
The shocking figure has led the British Heart Foundation (BHF) to call for a 9pm watershed on junk food TV advertising to help curb the obesity crisis.
Around 31 per cent of Year 6 children in Lancaster – around 410 children – re obese or overweight, according to latest statistics.
Carrying excess weight into adulthood increases the risk of developing heart disease in later life.
Analysis by the BHF shows that current regulations are creating loopholes that mean that food companies can advertise junk food – high in fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt – during programmes watched by children.
Shockingly, 13 junk food adverts were shown during just one X-Factor show last year, promoting unhealthy snacks such as crisps, chocolate bars and pizzas to the children watching 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 the latest Ofcom figures show that two thirds (65 per cent) of children watch TV during what is considered adult airtime.
Peak viewing for children is between 7 and 8pm when up to 1.8m children are glued to their TV screens.
One of the most popular programmes for children is the X-Factor with up to 1.2m children aged four to 15 watching.
During last year’s series, the BHF 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.
The regulation also allows programmes such as Hollyoaks, shown between 6.30pm and 7pm, to be sponsored by Domino’s Pizza.
The BHF is now calling for the government to announce a ban on junk food advertising before 9pm as part of a robust Childhood Obesity Strategy that is expected later this month.
Mike Hobday, director of policy at the BHF, said: “It’s worrying that so many children in Lancaster are obese or overweight. Carrying excess weight into adulthood increases the risk of developing heart disease in later life.
“We mustn’t 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.”
National statistics show that children are eating more saturated fat and sugar than is recommended and not enough fruit and vegetables.
A third of Year 6 children (33.2 per cent) are overweight or obese in England.
Obese children are more likely to be obese adults, which in turn increases their risk of a heart attack or stroke.