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Severe obesity levels hit record high among Year 6…

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Severe obesity levels hit record high among Year 6 children

Levels of severe obesity among Year 6 children have hit a record high, new figures reveal

The latest data from the National Child Measurement Programme, overseen by Public Health England (PHE), shows 4.2% of 10 and 11-year-olds in England were defined as severely obese last year.

Childhood obesity rates in the most deprived areas are more than double that of those in the least deprived areas, the figures also show.

(PA Graphics)

(PA Graphics)

The prevalence of severe obesity among Year 6 pupils has increased by more than a third, from 3.2% when the data was first collected in 2006/07.

One in five (20.1%) Year 6 children were either obese or severely obese last year as they prepared to leave primary school, the figures show.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) said this was “totally unacceptable”.

More than a quarter (26.8%) of 10 and 11-year-olds were obese in the most deprived areas in England, compared to 11.7% in the least deprived areas.

The Government has vowed to tackle childhood obesity (PHE/ PA)

The Government has vowed to tackle childhood obesity (PHE/ PA)

Among children in Reception, aged four to five years old, the rate of obesity was 12.8% in the most deprived areas and just 5.7% in the least deprived.

The proportion of overweight and obese children aged four to five was 22.4% last year and has remained relatively stable over the last decade, the figures show.

The Government has introduced a series of measures, including a tax on sugary soft drinks, to tackle the problem, and recently unveiled the second chapter of its childhood obesity strategy.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, said: “These continuing high rates of childhood obesity, combined with widening health inequalities, highlight why government is taking bold steps to tackle this crisis.

“This threat to our children’s health has been decades in the making – we’re moving in the right direction but reversing it will not happen overnight.”

Dr Max Davie, officer for health promotion for the RCPCH, added: “The Government has already shown it is serious about tackling childhood obesity so providing the actions set out in Chapter Two of the Childhood Obesity Plan are enacted, such as preventing junk food advertising on television before 9pm, I am reassured that these stats will begin moving in the right direction.

“However, as the figures have shown today, 20% of children are already obese by the time they leave primary school and this is totally unacceptable.

“Access and funding of high quality weight management services are urgently needed now if we are to ensure no child slips through the net and all children, no matter where they live are given the same opportunity to good health.”

Public Health Minister Steve Brine said: “Obesity is a problem that has been decades in the making – one that will take significant effort across government, schools, families and wider society to address.

“We cannot expect to see a reversal in trends overnight – but we have been clear that we are willing to do whatever it takes to keep children healthy and well in this country.

“We have already removed tonnes of sugar from children’s diets through the sugar tax, which has funded vital school sports and breakfast programmes, and this summer we announced the second chapter of our childhood obesity strategy with a series of bold plans to halve child obesity by 2030.”

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