CHILDREN’S waistlines in Wychavon have increased slightly.

The percentage of year six children, aged 10 to 11 – classed as obese – in the district has risen slightly to 18.9 per cent.

In Worcestershire as a whole, waistlines are getting slightly smaller – but almost one in three 10 and 11-year-olds are still overweight or clinically obese.

New figures show the county is starting to win its high-profile battle with the bulge, with 32 per cent of year six children being classed as either overweight or obese, compared to 33.5 per cent last year.

Meanwhile, 17.6 per cent of year six children are now classed as obese, down from 18.2 per cent a year ago.

The sample of 5,096 children showed wide discrepancies in obesity rates for children in different parts of the county.

Obesity is now estimated to cost the NHS in Worcestershire £80 million a year as well as placing an additional £60 million burden on the wider economy and tackling it is a top priority for county health chiefs.

Meanwhile, a Worcestershire county councillor has said parents who let their offspring gorge themselves until they become obese are committing child cruelty.

Pat Witherspoon, a member of Worcestershire’s health overview and scrutiny committee and a former social worker, feels the ‘abuse’ is just as big an issue as a child being underfed.

“I actually took a child into care because the youngster was underweight and in many ways this is the same issue,”

she said.

“To me it is child cruelty.

I don’t think we should lose sight of that.”

But Coun Marcus Hart, county cabinet member for health, does not back taking children into care because they are obese.

“That is not really my idea,” he said.

“I think we should be doing all that we can to encourage parents to take more responsibility for their children.”

He said bringing more children into care would add to the council’s financial burden, insisting: “We ought to be ensuring that we work with schools and agencies to ensure that our children eat a balanced and healthy diet.”