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One in 25 English children are severely obese by secondary school, study finds

Published on 29/05/18 at 12:48pm

A new analysis of Public Health England figures by the Local Government Association (LGA) has revealed that one in 25 English children are severely obese by the time they leave primary school aged 10 or 11.

The findings showed that around 15,000 of 629,000 pupils entering reception at age four or five were classed as severely overweight in the school year 2016-17. This number rose to 22,000 of 556,000 in Year 6 pupils who were about to leave secondary school, which led the LGA to point out the associated risks these children will be subject in later life to should their health not improve; these can include an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

“These new figures on severely obese children, who are in the most critical overweight category, are a further worrying wake-up call for urgent joined-up action,” commented Councillor Izzi Seccombe, Chairwoman of the LGA's Community Wellbeing Board. “The UK is already the most obese nation in western Europe, with one in three 10 and 11-year-olds and one in five four and five-year-olds classed as overweight or obese, respectively.

“Unless we tackle this obesity crisis, today's obese children will become tomorrow's obese adults whose years of healthy life will be shortened by a whole host of health problems including diabetes, cancer and heart disease.”

The UK Government requires all children in England to have their weight and height measured when they start and leave primary school as part of its child measurement programme. The government defended its plan to tackle childhood obesity, launched in 2016, in the face of the new data, with a spokesperson for the Department of Health remarking: “Our childhood obesity plan is among the most comprehensive in the world. However, we have always been very clear that this is the not the final word on obesity, and we have not ruled out further action if the right results are not seen.”

Matt Fellows

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