A SENIOR government minister said he was concerned about the high number of underweight children in East Lancashire.

Earlier this month, the Lancashire Telegraph revealed how Blackburn with Darwen had the highest proportion of underweight children in England last year, while the percentages in Pendle and Hyndburn were also above the national average.

Data obtained 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.

Danny Alexander, the Liberal Democrat chief secretary to the treasury, said: “I think these revelations are disturbing.

“This is one of the reasons the Liberal Democrats brought the policy of free school meals to the cabinet. They will help ensure children are properly nourished and better able to concentrate and learn at school.”

Childhood obesity has repeatedly been highlighted as a serious concern in East Lancashire, and health chiefs stress obesity remains a major problem, but the new statistics showed a significant number of children at the opposite end of the scale.

The Lancashire Telegraph has also highlighted the increasing use of foodbanks in recent months.