Those at greater risk of rapid weight gain now need to be allowed to burn off energy with friends in playgrounds, the British Obesity Society (BOS) say.

“There has been an absolute disregard for children’s health,” Paul Evans, vice-chairman of the BOS, told The Sunday Telegraph.

“Children are getting fatter as a result of the lockdown as they have been snacking and gaming more at home. The pandemic will continue to worsen the obesity crisis and the reality is that with playgrounds not opening, children are not getting the two hours exercise that they usually got per day from school.”

“We should not be prioritising going to restaurants and pubs, while not allowing children to go outside and having the space to be active. It is insane,” he added.

The comments come amid widespread concern about the effect the pandemic is also having on the mental health of youngsters.

Barnardos, Britain’s biggest children’s charity, said its research showed the vast majority of its frontline workers had seen a rise in psychological trauma, including from social isolation, among children during the lockdown.

Play associations are calling on councils to urgently reopen outdoor play areas, as they criticise them for being too cautious in their interpretation of Government guidelines.

The regular cleaning of “high traffic touch points” such as monkey bars, along with the installment of safety signs and management of queues are among the measures suggested by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government.

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