Obesity is now serious issue for final year primary school children

New figures from the NHS Information Centre have revealed that the proportion of children in England who have reached obesity by the time they are in their final year at primary school is on the rise. During 2010/11, 19% of children in year 6 that were measured as part of NCMP, the National Child Measurement Programme, were found to be obese, compared to the 2009/10 figure of 18.7%, and 14.2% in 2006/7.

A further 14.4% of year 6 children were overweight in this years study, compared to 14.6% in 2009/10 and 14.2% in 2006/7. The proportion of children in reception year that were obese has fallen to 9.4% however, compared to 9.8% in 2009/10, and 9.9% in 2006/7. The overweight proportion for the same group was 13.2%, compared to 13.3% in 2009/10 and 13% in 2006/7.

The NCMP measures both the weight and height of children in reception class, aged 4-5, an year 6, aged 10-11, in English primary schools to establish how prevalent pupils are who are underweight, a healthy weight, overweight and obese. Since it was first introduced in 2005, year on year participation has increased and more than 1m pupils take part, around 93% of those eligible.

The study also showed that in 2010/11:

Of England’s 10 regions (Strategic Health Authority, or SHA, areas); London SHA recorded the highest prevalence of obesity for both year groups – at 11.1 per cent of reception children and 21.9 per cent of Year 6 Children. South Central SHA recorded the lowest prevalence for both age groups at 8.1 per cent of Reception year and 16.5 per cent of Year 6 pupils.
Obesity is more prevalent in schools in deprived areas, as also noted in previous years. 6.9 per cent of Reception Year children from schools in the least deprived areas were obese, compared to 12.1 per cent of children from schools in the most deprived areas. Among Year 6 children; 13.8 per cent were obese from schools in the least deprived areas, compared to 23.7 per cent of children from schools in the most deprived areas.
Obesity is more prevalent in urban areas, as also noted in previous years. 9.7 per cent of Reception Year children from schools in urban areas were obese, compared to 7.8 per cent of children from schools in village areas. Among Year 6 children; 19.6 per cent were obese from schools in urban areas, compared to 15.9 per cent of children from schools in the village areas.
The proportion of Reception Year children recorded as underweight was 1.0 per cent; a greater proportion that in 2009/10 (0.9 per cent) but a smaller proportion than in 2006/07 (1.3 per cent). The proportion of Year 6 children recorded as underweight was 1.3 per cent; similar to the previous year (1.3 per cent) and a smaller proportion than in 2006/07 (1.5 per cent)

Chief Executive of the NHS Information Centre Tim Straughan said: “More than one million children in England are measured as part of the National Child Measurement Programme, which shows today that while the proportion of four-to-five year olds who are obese has fallen, the opposite has happened among 10 and 11-year-olds.

“This means that while fewer than one in 10 children in Reception Year are obese; for children in their final year of primary school this prevalence is nearly one in every five.”

The full report is at www.ic.nhs.uk/ncmp