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Last Updated: Monday, 4 February 2008, 00:12 GMT
Obesity not linked to deprivation
An obese child
Differences in the proportion of overweight and obese children
Obesity is a problem for children in affluent families as much as those with poor social conditions in Norfolk.

A study by the county's primary care trust, claiming to be comprehensive, found obesity hotspots in both rural and urban areas.

Jon Cox, epidemiologist for Norfolk PCT, said it was an unexpected result to find that deprivation is not linked to levels of obesity in children.

"People attribute obesity to deprived areas. We disprove this assumption."

Based on previously anecdotal evidence researchers expected urban areas to show highest levels of obese or overweight children.

A health map they drew up shows that the majority of hotspot areas actually fall within rural populations.

Comprehensive picture

"This is a vitally important key to tackling the problems resulting from obesity.

"Being able to look at the most relevant environmental, social and behavioural factors in relation to childhood obesity in Norfolk is the foundation stone to planning the most effective and targeted interventions," Mr Cox said.

The heights and weights of more than 13,000 children across Norfolk were measured at primary schools last summer, as part of a national initiative to gather the most comprehensive picture of levels of childhood obesity in England.

In Norfolk, the project was led by Norfolk PCT and supported by Norfolk County Council.

Norfolk PCT has taken the project one step further and carried out more detailed analysis on the data to provide an in-depth, localised picture of the prevalence of overweight and obese children in the county.

This analysis is based upon postcode areas and not centred on schools.

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