Call for action as figures show one in three pupils overweight

Last year 33.9% of year six pupils, aged 10 or 11, weighed more than they should
Last year 33.9% of year six pupils, aged 10 or 11, weighed more than they should
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A THIRD of final year primary school children in Yorkshire are either overweight or obese, according to new figures which show the problem is getting worse.

Across the region 33.6 per cent of pupils aged 10 or 11, weighed more than they should in 2011/12 – an increase from 33.2 per cent the previous year.

The statistics from the National Child Measurement Programme show 19.2 per cent of year six pupils in Yorkshire were obese while another 14.4 per cent were overweight.

Hull had the highest level of childhood obesity, at this age group, in the region at 22.5 per cent.

It was one of four council areas in the region where more than one-in-five 10 or 11-year-olds was obese along with Bradford, Rotherham and North Lincolnshire.

The figures also showed obesity levels among children in reception class – aged four or five.

More than one-in-five children (22.2 per cent) in this age group were either overweight or obese.

The prevalence of overweight and obese children was lower in Yorkshire than in the rest of England.

The percentage of children in year six who were obese nationally in 2011/12 was 33.9 per cent while in reception it was 22.6 per cent, the same as the previous year, the figures from the National Child Measurement Programme show.

Nationally the levels of obesity were highest among black children and lowest among those of Chinese descent.

Children who live in areas of high deprivation were also more likely to be obese, the report adds.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) said year six pupils in urban areas were more likely to be obese than those who live in towns and suburbs.

HSCIC chief executive Tim Straughan said: “The figures show that the proportion of year six children who are either overweight or obese appears to be still increasing slightly.

“This differs from the picture for reception-year children, for whom prevalence of obesity remains level. The National Child Measurement Programme measures more than 1m children and is the most robust snapshot of obesity levels among children in England.”

Public Health Minister Anna Soubry said a new campaign to encourage healthy eating is to be launched by the Government in the new year.

“Being overweight can do serious damage to our health so we must reduce levels in children to give them the best start in life. That is why we are already taking action to encourage families to eat healthily and get active,” she said.

Diane Abbott, Labour’s shadow public health minister, added: “These figures show children in year six paying the cost of this Government’s total lack of interest in this important issue. The Government is stuck in the crisis zone, and yet all they have planned is more half-baked corporate responsibility schemes. We’re seeing dinner ladies axed in their thousands, healthy school meals on their way out, and the Government has even scrapped its public health committee. Action on obesity needs to include local authorities using their powers to control the numbers of fast-food shops, particularly around schools.”

Graham Rowan, chairman of the Obesity Management Association, said: “Today’s report from the Health and Social Care Information Centre is further confirmation that obesity is continuing to rise at an alarming rate. It is vital to take action now to work with children and parents to educate and support them to change behaviour – 80 per cent of obese children go on to become obese adults. This is a ticking time bomb.”