Slough’s children are the most obese in the South East - and separately hundreds of pupils are missing school in the area, new figures reveal.

The obesity numbers, gathered by Public Health England’s national child measurement programme, show that Slough has a higher percentage of overweight or obese children than any of the 74 other areas of the South East, with the statistics also putting the town above national averages.

Almost one in every four children in Slough at reception age are overweight or obese.

That figure rises to more than one in every three children for school year six.

Angela Baker, Deputy Director for Health and Wellbeing for Public Health England South East, said: “It is worrying that more children are leaving primary school overweight or obese than ever before and levels are increasing.

“The latest child obesity figures for Slough show just how important it is that families receive expert advice on following a healthy diet and being active.”

The government has come under criticism recently from an article in the British Medical Journal for their childhood obesity action plan.

This article suggested the report should have included ‘evidence-based interventions’, such as a sugar tax on sweetened beverages, clearer food labelling, and promoting physical activity in schools.

Meanwhile other statistics, gained from a freedom of information request, show that 652 children in Slough are not attending schools as they should, and have been referred to the council as Children Missing Education, or CME.

For a child to be considered ‘CME’ they must be of compulsory school age and not registered pupils at a school and not receiving suitable education elsewhere, i.e. home schooling.

The numbers paint a worrying picture about the town’s education services, particularly when compared with statistics from neighbouring communities.

In the Bracknell Forest Borough, only 92 children were missing education for the school year 2015/16 and in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, the number was as low as 53.

A primary school headmaster, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “The problem could be that academies are at liberty to remove children who aren’t performing, simply because it looks bad on their records. In the state sector, teachers cannot turn their back on children in this way.

“Slough is also a more socially deprived area. Parents are sometimes less aspirational here because of their own negative experiences with education.”

Deputy leader of Slough Borough Council and lead commissioner for education and children’s services, Sabia Hussain (Lab, Central) said: “The CME numbers do seem quite shocking, but we have a transient population in Slough.

“Lots of people are coming in and leaving so the numbers are reflective of that.

“There are lots of reasons children could end up listed as CME.

“We have known about the obesity problem for a while and it is a problem.

“It shouldn’t be a problem, especially where we live, this shouldn’t be a problem.

“We have great facilities here and we’re investing in more development to try and tackle it, but I think people don’t realise that children don’t just sign up to gyms. Families need to get out together and work at this together.

“We have a long way to go with it, but we are working on it.”