A HIGH percentage of Halton's primary school children are at risk of being dangerously over-weight.
Widnes and Runcorn is included in a list of towns in Cheshire and Merseyside which have the highest obesity rates - a staggering 17.43% of all Halton children measured are over-weight.
And the findings revealed that one in seven children living in Merseyside and Cheshire will leave primary school clinically obese.
Details of height and weight measurements taken from 80% of pupils in Reception and Year Six, the top class, have been recorded for the first time.
One of the region's leading experts on obesity called on councils to impose parenting contracts on families who fail to keep their youngsters in shape.
But one surgeon went a step further, backing some national calls for councils to place obese children in social services care.
PCTs, however, insist they are tackling the problem, with at least one introducing an obesity treatment programme into all primary schools and promoting non-competitive sports. The figures, released after being requested by the Freedom of Information Act, were compiled last year by primary care trusts after the Government ordered definitive statistics on how prevalent obesity was across the UK.
In Halton 17.43% of youngsters measured were deemed overweight, while Knowsley and Liverpool had levels of approximately 15%.
Professor Kevin Sykes, director of Chester University's Centre for Exercise and Nutrition Science, said: 'The current figures are very worrying and they show a trend which will take a long time to tackle.
'Obesity leaves a child vulnerable to so many other problems, and it needs to be tackled by supporting parents.
'Many parents just need better support, but the suggestions that children should be taken into care if they are obese won't solve the problem.'