CHILDREN in a disadvantaged area have lower than normal levels of obesity after a targeted health programme.
An evaluation report found that obesity rates in these schools in Tallaght, Dublin, were 9pc lower than in schools that had not been subject to the programme.
It emerged that 16pc of children in the targeted schools were obese compared to 25pc in those that had not benefited from the programme, which ran from 2009 to 2011.
One in 10 of children in the targeted schools were overweight compared to 16pc in other comparable schools, the Healthy Schools Programme, co-ordinated by the Childhood Development Initiative, showed.
The programme aims to improve children and teachers' understanding of diet and exercise, as well as giving them more coping skills to deal with mental health issues.
The evaluation by a team in Trinity College also said the children who benefited from the programme had significant improvement in social support and relations with their peers.
Junior Health Minister Alex White said: "We will identify how best to work effectively with schools in order to support and enhance the health of young children."