child obesity
Edwina Currie was appointed junior health minister for the Conservatives in 1986 iStock

Edwina Currie has been criticised for asking how three million children in the UK can be going hungry while others are obese. The former Tory MP was responding to a report from the all-party parliamentary group (APPG), which warns that millions of children – who receive free school meals – are at risk of not getting proper nutrition when they break for the holidays, with some families resorting to food banks during out of term-time to feed their children.

The report said it is "deeply troubling" how children in one of the richest countries in the world are returning to class "malnourished, sluggish and dreary".

The report gives examples of children who were found to be unable to take part in sporting activities as "their bodies simply gave up" and a young person who vomited during the holidays because their diet consisted of nothing packets of crisps.

Currie, whose political career ended after claiming that most eggs produced in the UK are infected with salmonella while also once remarking that northerners were dying of "ignorance and chips", sent a tweet questioning the veracity of the report, asking: "How can '3 million UK children be going hungry in the holidays' when there's a national epidemic of child obesity? Eh?"

In a series follow-up tweets, Currie added: "Just wondering where all these hungry kids are, when a third are already overweight or obese...It's hard to credit the report of 3 million hungry UK kids when so many have the opposite problem...over fed, eating rubbish."

Currie was condemned in social media for her views on the issue, with many asking how she failed to understand some children can go hungry while others overeat.

Labour MP Frank Field, who chairs the APPG, described the evidence in the report as "staggering". He added: "It shows us that not only are there children in this country who are exposed to hunger when they are not at school, but also that this exposure risks damaging their prospects of gaining a good education and living a healthy life."