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One in three children aged 10-11 obese or overweight

The problem of obesity in children will take decades to resolve, the UK Faculty of Public Health's spokesperson on obesity has said, following the publication of the National Child Measurement Programme figures for 2009/10.

The key findings of the research were that:

  • In children aged 4-5 years (in Reception), nearly a quarter (23.1%) of those measured were either overweight or obese. In aged 10-11 years (Year 6), this rate was one in three (33.4%)
  • The percentage of obese children in Year 6 (18.7%) was nearly double that of Reception (9.8%)
  • Obesity prevalence ranged from 8.4% in South East Coast Strategic Health Authority to 11.6% in London SHA for Reception, and from 16.1% in South West SHA to 21.8% in London SHA for Year 6
  • Obesity prevalence varied by Primary Care Trust (PCT) ranging from 6.2% in Richmond and Twickenham PCT to 14.8% in Southwark PCT for Reception, and from 12.1% in Richmond and Twickenham PCT to 28.6% in Westminster PCT for Year 6
  • As in previous years, obesity prevalence was significantly higher in urban areas than in rural areas for both school years
  • Also as before, a strong positive relationship existed between deprivation and obesity prevalence for children in both groups
  • Obesity prevalence was significantly higher than the national average for children in both school years in the ethnic groups (‘Asian or Asian British’, ‘Any Other Ethnic Group’, ‘Black or Black British’ and ‘Mixed’).

Dr Helen Walters, obesity spokesperson for FPH, said: “While the childhood obesity rates in this country are still too high, with one in three children aged 10-11 either overweight or obese, the new figures indicate that we are halting the rise.

"But the situation will take decades to sort out and, as it stands, the picture remains bleak.  A lot needs to be done: children all across the country need access to safe outdoor places to play sports in and school sport classes, opportunities for safe active travel such as cycling or walking to school, and access to a good diet through healthy, free school meals and availability of cheap fruit and vegetables.

"Directors of public health across the country are leading teams working hard to address obesity in their communities.” 

Full report findings on the NHS Information Centre website.

Written: 15/12/2010 , last modified: 09/11/2011