The number of children leaving primary school severely obese has reached the highest point since records began, figures from Public Health England (PHE) has revealed.
Data from the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) for 2016 to 2017 show that one in 25 pupils aged 10 and 11 are severely obese, up from one in 32 a decade ago.
The NCMP captures the height and weight of over one million children in Reception (aged four to five years) and Year 6 (aged 10 to 11 years) in school each year and the latest data show that that health inequalities continue to widen. The prevalence of excess weight, obesity, overweight and severe obesity are higher in the most deprived areas compared to the least deprived – a trend that is more apparent in Year 6 than Reception.
Other observations include an upward trend of excess weight, obesity and severe obesity in Year 6 children; a downward trend of excess weight, overweight, obesity and severe obesity in Reception age boys; and a downward trend of underweight in Reception age boys and girls, and Year 6 girls.
Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, said: “The rise in severe obesity and widening health inequalities highlight why bold measures are needed to tackle this threat to our children’s health. These trends are extremely worrying and have been decades in the making – reversing them will not happen overnight.”
As part of its work to reduce childhood obesity, PHE is working with the food industry to cut 20 per cent of sugar from everyday products by 2020, and 20 per cent of calories by 2024, and has plans to introduce mandatory calorie labelling on menus and restrictions on price promotions for foods high in fat, salt or sugar.