A TRADE expert said rising food costs meant it was ‘unsurprising’ that many children were suffering from malnutrition.
The comments from insolvency trade body R3 came after a Lancashire Telegraph investigation revealed that Blackburn with Darwen has the highest percentage of underweight primary school children in England.
The findings of our investigation came as R3 published a report showing millions of people in the North West struggled to make it through to pay day as a result of rising food prices.
The group’s latest Personal Debt Snapshot found that 43 per cent of adults in the region said they ‘often or sometimes struggle to make it to payday’, with more than half of them citing the rising cost of food as a problem.
Richard Wolff, North West chair of R3, said: “The price of food is the main reason why people struggle from one payday to the next.
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“Inflation may be falling, but the cost of living is still too high for people on low incomes. Prices have been rising almost continually since the start of the financial crisis and although the gap is narrowing, wages still haven’t caught up.
“Prices have been rising almost continually since the start of the financial crisis and although the gap is narrowing, wages still haven’t caught up. With families facing these financial pressures, it’s not surprising that children are not getting the nutrition they need.”
“The latest fall in inflation is largely due to a drop in transport prices, which is welcome, but the price of food and household gas and electricity bills remains a bigger problem for many people.”
Data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), which looked at the Body Mass Index (BMI) of Year 6 children, showed 3.5 per cent were clinically underweight in Blackburn with Darwen in 2012/13, which equated to 66 pupils. Assuming the figures are similar for other years, there are about 400 children in the borough at risk of malnutrition.
Health experts at Blackburn with Darwen Council are looking at the issue to ‘understand the full range of causes’.