More than a quarter of P1 kids in Dundee are at risk of becoming overweight or obese, a survey has revealed.
A study of 1,500 P1 children found unhealthy weights among youngsters are at record high levels.
Of the children surveyed, 13.8% were at risk of being overweight and 13.1% were at risk of being obese – a combined 26.9%. The current national average is 22.4%.
Researchers also found 17.8% of the pupils surveyed were already either clinically overweight, obese or severely obese.
Dr Karen Barton, a lecturer in nutrition at Abertay University, said the availability of cheap, unhealthy food is responsible.
She said: “Dundee has high levels of deprivation and it is noted that there are higher levels of obesity in these more deprived areas.
“High-calorie foods can be less expensive than healthy foods, especially now in the lead up to Christmas when sweets are reduced.”
The issue is set to be addressed in a new pilot scheme being funded by the Scottish Government, where health bosses work with local bodies to encourage healthier lifestyles.
It aims to halve childhood obesity in the area by 2030.
NHS Tayside dietetic consultant in public health nutrition Joyce Thompson said: “Obesity is a major contributor to preventable disease and death in Scotland and Tayside.
“It is a disease with genetic, behavioural, socioeconomic, and environmental origins, which increases the risk of many diseases such as cancer and type 2 diabetes.
“Therefore obesity is posing an unprecedented challenge not just to those in health and social care, but to each and every one of us as individuals.
A Dundee City Council spokesman said: “We want to increase participation in physical activity and this includes initiatives like the daily 15 minutes of activity and outdoor learning.
“We also encourage young people to take up healthy options.”