England’s 10 and 11 year olds are fatter than ever before, according to NHS figures that have today laid bare the nation’s obesity crisis.
A third of children in Year Six are overweight, and almost a quarter – around 150,000 youngsters – are deemed obese or severely obese.
Children in poor areas such as Wolverhampton are four times more likely to be obese than those residing in Richmond or other affluent places, the data showed.
The head of the NHS today said the shock statistics clearly show the Government is ‘not on track’ to halve childhood obesity rates by 2030.
It comes after the nation’s chief medical officer recommended a host of radical plans to tackle the growing obesity crisis, including a ban on eating on public transport.
England’s 10 and 11 year olds are fatter than ever before, damning NHS statistics today revealed. Almost a quarter of Year Six children are obese or severely obese
Almost half (44.9 per cent) of all year six children in Barking and Dagenham were considered to be overweight, obese or severely obese in 2018/19. In contrast, the rate was just 23.4 per cent in Richmond upon Thames, which had the lowest prevalence of obesity among 10 and 11 year olds
Overall, more than a third of Year 6 pupils (34.3 per cent) are overweight or obese – an 8.5 per cent increase on the 31.6 per cent in 2006/7.
It means around 206,000 children are heavier than they should be for their age before they have left primary school.
And the latest NHS data showed a staggering 24.6 per cent of Year 6 children are either obese or severely obese.
HOW HAVE THE FIGURES CHANGED?
Year Six children who are overweight or obese
2006/7: 31.6 per cent
2018/19: 34/3 per cent
Year Six children who are obese:
2006/7: 17.5 per cent
2018/19: 20.2 per cent
Year Six children who are severely obese:
2006/7: 3.2 per cent
2018/19: 4.4 per cent
The rate of children that are severely obese is the highest rate on record, and three times higher than 12 years ago.
It’s increased to 4.4 per cent from 3.2 per cent in 2006/7 and 4.2 per cent in 2017/18.
Children aged four to five are also fatter than they were last year, the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) data showed.
Overall, 22.6 per cent of children in Reception are overweight or obese – amounting to 135,020 infants, compared with 22.4 per cent last year.
More than one in ten children in Reception are either severely obese (2.4 per cent, the same as the previous year) or obese (9.7 per cent – up on the 9.5 per cent on the previous year). Little has changed since 2006/07.
NHS chief executive Simon Stevens said: ‘These figures show that, as a country, we are clearly not on track to meet the government’s sensible goal of halving childhood obesity.
‘While the NHS will be there for patients, services and budgets will obviously be placed under more strain.
‘So we also need combined action from parents, businesses and government to safeguard our children from this preventable harm.’
More than one in ten children in Reception are either obese or severely obese, figures show
‘Obesity is a dangerous public health threat for our children, leading to a string of serious illnesses.’
Mr Stevens’ comments echo those Dame Sally Davies, the outgoing chief medical officer, who said drastic measures were needed to combat childhood obesity.
In her final report published yesterday, Dame Sally called for a ban on eating public transport to prevent ‘mindless snacking’.
The bold recommendations also include phasing out any advertising and sponsorship of unhealthy foods and drink at major public venues, and introducing plain ‘cigarette-style’ packaging.
Dame Sally warned that the country is ‘nowhere near’ meeting 2030 Government ambitions to slash childhood obesity rates by half.
Tam Fry, chair of the National Obesity Forum, told MailOnline: ‘The government is continually reminding us that it has a “world-leading ” strategy to tackle obesity.
‘These statistics show that is just not true but if Downing Street promptly adopts the proposals outlined England’s outgoing Chief Medical Officer, it may well have something to crow about in only a few years time.
‘Dame Sally has proposed that children’s weight be assessed every time the child is seen by a doctor or health professional. Her successor should ensure that the measure is implemented.’
WHERE ARE 10 AREAS WITH THE HIGHEST PREVALENCE OF FAT CHILDREN IN YEAR SIX?
Barking and Dagenham 44.9
Tower Hamlets 41.4
WHERE ARE 10 AREAS WITH THE LOWEST PREVALENCE OF FAT CHILDREN IN YEAR SIX?
Richmond upon Thames 23.4
Bath and North East Somerset 25.6
Brighton and Hove 25.9
North Somerset 27.1
West Berkshire 27.7
Windsor and Maidenhead 28.0
WHERE ARE 10 AREAS WITH THE HIGHEST PREVALENCE OF FAT CHILDREN IN RECEPTION?
Kingston upon Hull 29.4
Redcar and Cleveland 28.8
St. Helens 28.5
Newcastle upon Tyne 27.3
WHERE ARE 10 AREAS WITH THE LOWEST PREVALENCE OF FAT CHILDREN IN RECEPTION?
Kingston upon Thames 15.3
Richmond upon Thames 16.5
Windsor and Maidenhead 16.8
Yesterday, Professor Dame Sally Davies, nicknamed the nation’s ‘nanny-in-chief’ for her bold public health interventions, warned that the country is ‘nowhere near’ meeting 2030 ambitions to slash childhood obesity rates by half
WHAT HAS DAME SALLY RECOMMENDED IN HER FINAL REPORT?
+ Ban all food and drink except water on urban public transport;
+ Use Brexit to simplify VAT rates on food – apply the tax to unhealthy food, remove it from healthy food;
+ Phase out any advertising and sponsorship of unhealthy foods and drink at major public venues;
+ Schools to ensure healthy meals are provided at a low price, including to children receiving free school meals;
+ Calorie caps for all food and drink sold by restaurants and takeaways, including online firms;
+ Nutrition labelling to be made mandatory on the front of food packs in supermarkets and on all menus in restaurants;
+ If ‘sufficient progress’ is not made on sugar reduction targets, by 2021 the Government should either extend the soft drinks levy to sugary food, or implement ‘cigarette-style’ plain packaging;
+ Taxes or plain packaging should be considered for calorie-rich food by 2024.
A THIRD OF CHILDREN TASTES A CHIP BEFORE A CARROT
One in three children tastes a chip before a carrot, a poll has found.
And nearly half of youngsters eat crisps before eating cabbage and other greens.
The poll of 1,500 parents with children under the age of five found that seven out of 10 of the mothers and fathers quizzed said their child does not get enough greens in their diet.
It found that 36 per cent of parents admitted their child tried a chip before a carrot, with 18 per cent tackling a hamburger before they tasted broccoli.
A total of 47 per cent said their youngster had eaten crisps before trying greens like cabbage, and 16 per cent admitted their little one had feasted on pizza before ever tasting a pea.
According to the poll, 80 per cent of parents found the weaning stage – when babies are introduced to solid foods – incredibly stressful in terms of making sure their child got the nutrients they needed.
In a bid to get their children to eat vegetables, 38 per cent of parents admitted saying that eating carrots gave you ‘superpowers’ like seeing in the dark, with 28 per cent pretending that vegetables were actually treats.
A total of 54 per cent of parents say they used the ‘choo-choo’ methods of feeding their kids, pretending the spoon is a train.
And 58 per cent of mothers and fathers admitted they lied to friends about how many types of fruit and veg their children ate to make themselves seem better parents.
Mark Cuddigan, the boss of Ella’s Kitchen, which carried out the poll, said: ‘We know that introducing a variety of vegetables early during weaning, helps little ones learn how to love new veggie tastes, but we also know it’s not always an easy task.
‘It can take up to eight tries for little ones’ tiny taste buds to learn to accept the taste of all types of veg, so we encourage parents to keep trying. It’s never too late to grow a little veg lover.’
Jo Churchill, Public Health Minister, said: ‘These data highlight once again how important it is for us to tackle childhood obesity, which has a devastating impact on the health of our children.’
In both Reception and Year 6, boys are more likely to be severely obese than girls.
The difference is most stark in Year 6, where 5.2 per cent of boys are severely obese compared with 3.4 per cent of girls.
Caroline Cerny, from the Obesity Health Alliance, said: ‘Every child has the right to grow up healthy, but this data shows the stark reality is that children are being overwhelmed by a flood of unhealthy food in our environment.
‘The number of children with a weight classified as severely obese is at an all-time high and this will damage their health now and in the future.
‘It’s time for the Government to bring in the measures that we know will stem the tide of unhealthy food marketing and promotions, starting with the long overdue 9pm watershed on junk food adverts on TV and online.’
The data also showed the widening gap between rates of childhood obesity in the most deprived areas compared with the least.
Almost half (44.9 per cent) of all year six children in Barking and Dagenham were considered to be overweight, obese or severely obese in 2018/19.
Four other London boroughs ranked in the top 10: Enfield (42.3 per cent), Brent (41.5 per cent), Greenwich (41.5 per cent) and Tower Hamlets (41.4 per cent).
In contrast, the rate was just 23.4 per cent in Richmond upon Thames, which had the lowest prevalence of obesity among 10 and 11 year olds.
Among Reception-aged children, Kingston upon Hull had the highest prevalence of youngsters being overweight (29.4 per cent).
It was followed by Knowsley in Merseyside (29 per cent), Redcar and Cleveland (28.8 per cent) and Blackpool (28.7 per cent).
At the other end of the scale came Kingston upon Thames (15.3 per cent), Richmond upon Thames (16.5 per cent) and Windsor and Maidenhead (16.8 per cent).
Eustace De Sousa, national lead for children at Public Health England (PHE), which oversees the NCMP data collection, said: ‘Our most deprived areas are often the worst affected by childhood obesity.
‘These widening health inequalities show why such urgent action is needed to improve our children’s health. We are taking positive action, but change won’t happen overnight.
‘A healthy weight in childhood can help lay the foundations for a healthy life in adulthood, but achieving this is far more difficult for some children than others.’
Last month, a report from PHE said food firms are failing to cut sugar fast enough, with some puddings and sweets actually getting more sugary.
At present, food firms are in a voluntary agreement with the Government over cutting sugar and fat in foods.
The mandatory sugar tax was slapped on soft drinks in 2018 which has led to a 28.8 per cent reduction in sugar per 100ml of drink.
However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he wants to see a review of so-called ‘sin taxes’ – including the sugar tax – to see how effective they are.
A resounding call for more action against food and drink giants is being pushed by experts, including Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE.
She said: ‘Too many children remain overweight or obese, and severe obesity in Year Six has reached a new high – putting children at risk of poor mental and physical health now and as they become adults.
‘That’s why we are addressing the wider factors impacting our children’s weight – from working with industry to improve the food they eat, to helping local councils create healthier environments to live in. However, we know more action is needed.’
Overweight children are more likely to be overweight or obese as adults, increasing their risk of serious illnesses including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
Dame Sally’s report said thousands of children are already suffering type 2 diabetes, asthma and musculokskeletal pain as a result of their excess weight.
As many as 120,000 cases of asthma in children may be caused by overweight or obesity, while as many as 650,000 children are thought to have fatty liver disease.
Mental health is also at stake, with problems such as depression, poor self-esteem, and bullying posing a threat to England’s youngsters.
|Region and Local Authority||Number||Prevalence|
|Barking and Dagenham||1,547||44.9|
|Newcastle upon Tyne||1,127||40.6|
|Redcar and Cleveland||560||37.4|
|Blackburn with Darwen||799||36.6|
|Telford and Wrekin||784||36.2|
|Kingston upon Hull, City of||1,080||35.7|
|Cheshire West and Chester||1,328||35.3|
|Hammersmith and Fulham||457||35.2|
|North East Lincolnshire||645||34.3|
|Kensington and Chelsea||310||34.3|
|Herefordshire, County of||600||34.1|
|Isle of Wight||388||32.7|
|East Riding of Yorkshire||1,130||32.1|
|Bristol, City of||1,402||31.3|
|Kingston upon Thames||523||28|
|Windsor and Maidenhead||422||28|
|Brighton and Hove||647||25.9|
|Bath and North East Somerset||430||25.6|
|Richmond upon Thames||521||23.4|
|Region and Local Authority||Number||Prevalence|
|Kingston upon Hull, City of||944||29.4|
|Redcar and Cleveland||424||28.8|
|Newcastle upon Tyne||810||27.3|
|Telford and Wrekin||519||25.6|
|North East Lincolnshire||466||25.2|
|Barking and Dagenham||832||25|
|Isle of Wight||290||23.8|
|Herefordshire, County of||419||23.6|
|Cheshire West and Chester||851||22.8|
|Bristol, City of||1,116||22.3|
|Bath and North East Somerset||373||21.6|
|Blackburn with Darwen||424||21.2|
|Brighton and Hove||490||20.2|
|East Riding of Yorkshire||643||20.1|
|Kensington and Chelsea||172||20|
|Hammersmith and Fulham||245||19|
|Windsor and Maidenhead||258||16.8|
|Richmond upon Thames||373||16.5|
|Kingston upon Thames||292||15.3|
WHAT IS OBESITY? AND WHAT ARE ITS HEALTH RISKS?
Obesity is defined as an adult having a BMI of 30 or over.
A healthy person’s BMI – calculated by dividing weight in kg by height in metres, and the answer by the height again – is between 18.5 and 24.9.
Among children, obesity is defined as being in the 95th percentile.
Percentiles compare youngsters to others their same age.
For example, if a three-month-old is in the 40th percentile for weight, that means that 40 per cent of three-month-olds weigh the same or less than that baby.
Around 58 per cent of women and 68 per cent of men in the UK are overweight or obese.
The condition costs the NHS around £6.1billion, out of its approximate £124.7 billion budget, every year.
This is due to obesity increasing a person’s risk of a number of life-threatening conditions.
Such conditions include type 2 diabetes, which can cause kidney disease, blindness and even limb amputations.
Research suggests that at least one in six hospital beds in the UK are taken up by a diabetes patient.
Obesity also raises the risk of heart disease, which kills 315,000 people every year in the UK – making it the number one cause of death.
Carrying dangerous amounts of weight has also been linked to 12 different cancers.
This includes breast, which affects one in eight women at some point in their lives.
Among children, research suggests that 70 per cent of obese youngsters have high blood pressure or raised cholesterol, which puts them at risk of heart disease.
Obese children are also significantly more likely to become obese adults.
And if children are overweight, their obesity in adulthood is often more severe.
As many as one in five children start school in the UK being overweight or obese, which rises to one in three by the time they turn 10.
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