27 May 2011

The latest on child obesity statistics

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Children in the UK are routinely weighed and measured on entering Reception (age 4-5 years) and Year 6 (age 10-11 years) and categorised using recognised growth charts as ‘underweight’, ‘healthy weight’, ‘overweight’ or ‘obese’. Being an unhealthy weight as a child can have both immediate and long-term effects; obesity can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, certain cancers, and have psychological, social and academic implications.

Recent findings from the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) for England in the 2009/2010 school year should that nearly one in five children leaving primary school are obese.

  • In Reception, nearly one quarter (23.1%) of children were either overweight or obese. In Year 6, this had risen to one in three (33.4%).
  • The rate of obesity doubled between Reception (9.8%) and Year 6 (18.7%).
  • The prevalence of underweight was low at around 1% for both ages.

This makes rather depressing reading, but it shouldn’t mean we turn a blind eye to children’s weight issues. Promoting healthy eating and a positive attitude to good food in the early years is certainly a good start, as is encouraging enjoyable exercise and physical activity during childhood.

If you are worried about your child’s weight, I recommend having an assessment by a paediatric dietitian who will provide practical and evidence-based guidelines for you to follow to ensure your child avoids becoming one of these statistics. Have  a look at my Healthy Weight Checker on the Blossom home page to understand how your child’s weight will be categorised.


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