England: 'Alarming' rise in childhood obesity during pandemic

10 January 2022

Obesity rates for children in Reception (aged 4 to 5) increased from 9.9% in 2019/20 to 14.4% in 2020/21, data from NHS digital has revealed.

Among 10- to 11-year-olds (Year 6), obesity prevalence increased from 21% to 25.5%.

The National Child Measurement Programme report also revealed that boys have a higher obesity prevalence than girls in both age groups.

Children living in the most deprived areas were more than twice as likely to be obese as those living in the least deprived area.

Obesity prevalence increased from 21% in 2019/20 to 25.5% in 2020/21 among Year 6 pupils

Max Davie, officer for health improvement at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, called the rise ‘alarming’.

He said: ‘While lockdown may have been a key factor, we mustn’t assume that this year’s results are an aberration since there may be other factors, including mental health difficulties, which will take time to address.’

He also said a focus had to be placed on poverty: ‘Every year we see the gap between the most and least deprived children widen [...] Obesity is increasingly a disease of poverty in the UK.’

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