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A third finish primary school overweight

Social deprivation a key factor in children who are overweight or obese, says report
WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Farah Ahmed
cheerful obese girl

13th December 2012 - The proportion of final year primary school children in England who are overweight or obese increased slightly last year and continues to exceed one in three.

The percentage of children in Year 6 classified as overweight or obese increased to 33.9% in 2011-12 from 33.4% the previous year.

However, there was no change in the proportion of overweight or obese children in Reception Year which stands at 22.6% - the same as in 2010-11.

Child measurement programme

The figures, published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), come from the National Child Measurement Programme, which measures the height and weight of children as they start school aged four or five and again as they prepare to finish primary education at 10 or 11. From these figures, the proportion of children who are underweight, a healthy weight, overweight or obese can be tracked.

Tim Straughan, HSCIC chief executive says in a statement: "The figures show that the proportion of Year 6 children who are either overweight or obese appears to be still increasing slightly. This differs from the picture for Reception Year children for whom prevalence of obesity remains level."

Social deprivation

The figures show a close link between obesity and social deprivation, with children in the 10% most deprived areas more likely to be obese (24.3%) compared with those in the 10% least deprived areas (13.7%).

Among the other findings:

  • Children who are Black or Black British are most likely to be obese both in Reception Year (15.6%) and Year 6 (27.5%) while Chinese children were those least likely to be obese both in Reception Year (7.3%) and Year 6 (16.7%)
  • Year 6 children in urban areas are more likely to be obese (19.9%) compared to those in towns and suburbs (16.3%) and those in rural locations (15.6%)
  • Of England's 10 Strategic Health Authority areas (SHAs), the North East SHA had the highest proportion of overweight and obese Reception Year children (24.5%) while South East Coast had the lowest prevalence (20.7%)
  • London SHA had the highest proportion among Year 6 children (37.5%) while South Central and South East Coast had the lowest recorded prevalence (30.8%)

Healthy schools 'not working'

Commenting on the findings by email, Tam Fry, spokesman for the National Obesity Forum, says: "In my view the real tragedy of the figures is that there are over double the number of obese primary school leavers than who entered school six years before.

"This shows that all the policy to create healthy schools by food alone is not working and schools must now add daily PE into their curriculum in the effort to get children back into shape. Better still, the government should now re-focus on preschool lifestyle so that kids don’t get obese in the first place."

Reviewed on December 13, 2012

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