More than a quarter of Year 6 children living in the most deprived areas were obese compared to 11.9% of those living in the least deprived areas.
Childhood obesity rates in the UK continue to rise according to latest figures which lay bare the growing divide between rich and poor areas.
More than a quarter (27.5 per cent) of Year 6 children, aged 10-11, living in the most deprived areas were obese compared to 11.9 per cent of those living in the least deprived areas. Some 13.3 per cent of Reception children, aged 4-5, living in the most deprived areas were obese compared to 6 per cent of those living in the least deprived areas, the Government’s National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) for the 2019/20 school year found.
The report contains analyses of Body Mass Index (BMI) classification rates by age, sex and ethnicity as well as geographic analyses. It found that in Reception, obesity prevalence has increased from 9.7 per cent in 2018-19 to 9.9 per cent in 2019-20, while in Year 6 obesity prevalence has increased from 20.2 per cent in 2018-19 to 21 per cent in 2019-20. Boys have a higher obesity prevalence than girls for both age groups. In Reception, 10.1 per cent of boys were obese compared to 9.7 per cent of girls, and in Year 6, 23.6 per cent of boys were obese compared to 18.4 per cent of girls.
Sidonie Sakula-Barry, the World Cancer Research Fund’s health promotion manager, said: “Every year this data on children’s weight is released, and every year childhood overweight and obesity has increased. This trend will not change unless our commitment to ending child obesity is driven by action from Government, food industry, and the public to make healthier food affordable and accessible to all – it’s not a coincidence that obesity rates are twice as high in the most deprived areas compared to the least deprived.
“Until we do that, obesity will remain high, increasing our children’s risk of cancer in adulthood, and obesity prevalence will remain highest among children living in the most deprived areas.“
‘Not good news’
Caroline Cerny, alliance lead at Obesity Health Alliance, said: “These results are not good news for child health.”
She added: “In a year when public health has been propelled to the forefront of politics, we now need action on child health – not just words. Taking junk food out of the spotlight through restrictions on marketing and promotions – including the long overdue 9pm watershed on junk food adverts – should be the first step. The sooner action is taken, the sooner we can give all children the chance to grow up healthy.”
The programme covers 890,608 children in Reception and Year 6 in mainstream state-maintained schools.
The Government has said tackling obesity is an “urgent national priority” with growing evidence that being heavily overweight can increase people’s risk of serious illness from Covid-19. Each year, the NHS spends an estimated £6.1bn treating overweight and obesity related ill-health.
Tam Fry, chair of the National Obesity Forum, told i: The figures are truly depressing since they show that Theresa May’s 2016 Action Plan to tackle childhood obesity has had absolutely no effect. Though Covid-19 cannot be held responsible for any of the increase announced today it will be accountable for any future one. There is a global consensus that lockdowns and the resulting disruption to children’s lives will negatively affect their weight – but, disastrously, we may never know by how much.
“The UK’s National Child Measurement Programme was stopped in June for the duration of the pandemic and no equivalent programme has been announced. It is vital that there is one since its data will demonstrate just how urgently a solution to childhood obesity must be found. Unfortunately Boris Johnson’s war on fat launched in June may have no more effect in the future than May’s abortive plan.”
Article Source: Inews