Childhood obesity increases in East Midlands

Public Health England (PHE)
Public Health England (PHE)

The number of obese children in the East Midlands has increased - but is still below the national average.

Latest figures from Public Health England (PHE) show in 2016/17 9.5 per cent of reception year and 19.3 per cent of year six children in the region were obese - this is compared to 9.1 per cent of reception year and 19 per cent of year six children in 2015/16.

Despite the increase, the figures remain under the national average for 2016/17 of 9.6 per cent of youngsters aged four to five and 20 per cent of those aged 10 to 11.

Ann Crawford, deputy director for health improvement at PHE East Midlands, said: “These latest figures should be a wake-up call – our children need every opportunity for a healthy life and our NHS is under increasing demand.

“Childhood obesity is the challenge of a generation and more joined-up local action is needed if we are serious about giving our children the future they deserve.”

Obesity in children tends to be higher in more deprived areas, and the figures show the gap between rich and poor is widening. In the most deprived areas nationally, 12.7 per cent of children in reception year are obese, compared to 5.8 per cent in the least deprived. Obesity in year six is 26.3 per cent in the most deprived areas compared to 11.4 per cent in the least deprived.

The data is taken from the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP).

Children who are overweight or obese are more likely to suffer from poor self-esteem, bullying and tooth decay in childhood. They are also more likely to be overweight or obese adults, which can lead to a range of preventable illnesses including heart disease, type two diabetes and some cancers.

The Government’s Childhood Obesity Plan was published a year ago with the aim of helping children avoid a lifetime of poor health.

PHE has launched a comprehensive sugar reduction programme and has begun work to tackle excess calorie consumption, while the Soft Drinks Industry Levy has become law and will take effect from April 2018. Leading retailers and manufacturers have announced they are, or already have, lowered the amount of sugar in their products as a result of these programmes.

PHE’s Change4Life campaign is also helping millions of families to make healthier choices through meal swap suggestions and the Be Food Smart app.