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Childhood obesity rates reach record high despite Government strategy

Severe obesity in children aged 10 to 11 years has reached a record high, the latest figures have revealed.

The new data published today found that severe obesity among children aged 10 to 11 years increased by more than a third in just over a decade, while the gap in  obesity rates across the most and least deprived areas continued to widen.

This comes despite the Government’s obesity strategy, which was criticised by GPs who accused the Government of watering down expert recommendations. 

This criticism was echoed by MPs who said they were ‘extremely disappointed’ that the Government plan failed to adopt tougher measures and called for more robust action to tackle childhood obesity.

The latest data from the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) for 2017/18 found that:

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  • The proportion of overweight and obese children in aged four to five years has remained stable at 22.4%;
  • For children aged 10 to 11, this percentage is now 34.3%, compared to 31.6% in 2016/17;
  • The rate of severe obesity among this age group (aged 10-11 years) has also increased by more than a third since 2006/07 to 4.2%, its highest rate ever
  • In the most deprived areas, 12.8% of children in aged four to five years are obese, compared to 5.7% in the least deprived;
  • In children aged 10 to 11, this percentage is 26.8% in the most deprived areas compared to 11.7% in the least deprived;
  • Across both age groups (four to five, and 10 to 11), severe obesity is four times higher in deprived areas.

Public health minister Steve Brine said: ‘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.’

PHE chief nutritionist Dr Alison Tedstone 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.’

Earlier this year, the Government admitted it missed its first-year target for reducing sugar in the food industry by 5%, with only a 2% cut.


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