Local MP Angela Rayner joined TV’s Dr Hilary Jones in the House of Commons to celebrate the role of school milk in supporting childhood health.
Dr Jones is the spokesperson for the School and Nursery Milk Alliance, which works to highlight the health benefits of milk in schools.
The organisation presented Angela with new research on the number of children who are already suffering from obesity or dental decay at the age of five.
It shows that in Tameside and Oldham, almost 1 in 10 (9.9%) of 5-year-olds are obese.
Shockingly, almost 1 in 3 5-year-olds in Tameside have suffered from tooth decay. Oldham's record is even worse with more than half of all 5-year-olds suffering from tooth decay.
In both boroughs, childhood obesity levels are above the national average of 9.1%, with tooth decay levels way above the national average of 24.7%.
A recent review of evidence by Northumbria University concluded that drinking milk may support immediate and lasting dental and bone health in five to 11 year old children, and could have a positive effect on preventing childhood obesity.
The review reported that children who regularly drink milk have lower body mass indexes, body fat percentages and waist circumferences than children who rarely drink milk.
In the UK, children under five in childcare or primary school can get a free portion of milk every day through the Nursery Milk Scheme.
Children aged five to 11 can get currently get subsidised milk through the European School Milk Scheme – although it is currently unclear if this will continue once the UK leaves the EU.
The Alliance has called on the Government to ensure children have access to milk in early years to help tackle obesity and dental decay.
The Alliance has also encouraged ministers to support a replacement for the EU School Milk Scheme that allows children over five years old to receive subsidised milk in schools.
Dr Hilary Jones, Spokesperson for the School and Nursery Milk Alliance, said: “The national figures for childhood obesity and dental decay are shocking.
"But our research shows that in many deprived areas the story is even worse. Evidence shows that ensuring children are regularly drinking milk can help address these problems.
"I’m delighted that Angela was able to join us and to support our call to ensure that access to free milk in school continues to be available, including for those children who currently benefit from the EU School Milk Scheme."