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NHS data has found childhood obesity in England is falling

New research by the National Health Service (NHS) has highlighted that the number of four to five-year-olds who are overweight are below levels seen in 2018-2019.

However, the news for children aged between 10 and 11-years-old is slightly less positive as those that are deemed as overweight and obese remains above the level before the start of the pandemic.

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To conduct the research, the National Child Measurement Programme measured the height and weight of children in reception classes and year six. They found that obesity rates in children in tear six fell from 23.4% of pupils in 2021-22 to 22.7% in 2022-23, which is higher than the 2019-20 pre-pandemic level of 21%.

In addition, the prevalence of obesity in reception-aged children fell from 10.1% in 2021-2022 to 9.2% in 2022-2023. These rates are lower than in 2018-19.

Looking at the research more closely, the obesity level among reception-aged children was 12.4% in the most deprived areas, compared with 5.8% of those living in the least deprived.

Following this, 30.2% of children in year six living in deprived areas were classed as obese and 13.1% in the least deprived.

Dr Mike McKean, vice-president for Policy at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, deemed these particular findings ‘unacceptable’.

‘Today’s data shows that two in five children are leaving primary school overweight and are subsequently at a higher risk of chronic illnesses, mental health issues and even a shorter lifespan. To have these children at such a disadvantage before even starting secondary school is a national disgrace.’

A government spokesperson said: ‘We are committed to halving childhood obesity rates by 2030 and we welcome this data which shows a decrease in the prevalence of primary school children living with obesity.

‘By investing £320 million a year in school sports we are promoting healthier lifestyles through physical activity and through schemes like Healthy Start, which encourage a healthy diet for families from lower income households.’

Image: jarmoluk

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