MORE than a third of children in the region are leaving primary school obese or overweight, new figures show.

Research released today (Friday, January 15) by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) has revealed the extent of weight problems facing young children, with 36 per cent of 11-year-olds in the North-East being an unhealthy weight.

This equates to 9,700 children in the region.

The study also reveals about 33 per cent of year six primary school children in Yorkshire and the Humber are obese or overweight, leading to the BHF to call for a ban on all junk food TV advertising before 9pm as part of the Government’s Childhood Obesity Strategy.

Mike Hobday, director of policy at the BHF, said: “It’s worrying that so many children in the North-East 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.”

The BHF’s analysis found that legislation loopholes mean that food companies can advertise junk food during programmes watched by children.

They found that 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 of children watch TV during what is considered adult airtime, hence the BHF’s call for a 9pm junk food advertising watershed.