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  1. ITV Report

20,000 children in Bristol are living in poverty

Health experts work with two year olds in Barton Hill Photo: ITV News

Health experts say 20 thousand children in Bristol are living in poverty. But now doctors, community groups and universities have started a new project to tackle what they say is a "deprivational divide" in the city.

2 year olds Rufaro and Tyrell are learning about their bodies and how they work as part of a project to improve health in Bristol's poorer communities. Research shows deprivation in the city is higher than the national average. 20,000 children are living in poverty in the city.

Bad nutrition in pregnancy and childhood means nearly one in 10 children are obese when they start primary school, and nearly one in five by the time they leave.

Health experts have begun a new campaign to try to change this. Dr Patricia Lucas is from Bristol Network for Early Years Health & Wellbeing:

Bristol is a young city with more children under 15 than adults aged over 65, so their health is crucial to that of the city. Two and three year olds at Cashmore Early Years in Barton Hill are the prime target for health professionals. It's hoped that teaching the little ones about a good diet and healthy eating will improve the long term health of the city's deprived areas.

Children at Barton Hill educated about healthy eating Credit: ITV News

It's hard to educate these kids about healthy eating when the number of fast food outlets in Bristol is among the highest in the country. Just half a mile from the nursery we spotted 5 takeaways in less than a hundred metres. The campaign organisers believe they can change things.

It's going for the really young children now. The two year old provision is a perfect opportunity of this early intervention that we can put into place before the children even start school.

– Denise Draper, Deputy Head, Cashmore Early Years Centre
Health experts want to teach toddlers about healthy eating Credit: ITV News

It's a lofty ambition to try and improve the health of a generation of Bristolians but there is no extra money to make it happen. The campaign must rely on the willpower of academics, public health specialists, and community groups working together to improve the services already available.