Just over one in five children in England start their school life overweight or obese, says a report from The NHS Information Centre out today.
Figures for those in the final year of primary school – Year 6 – show that the number of children who are overweight or obese is nearly one in three.
Under the government's National Child Measurement Programme 2008/09, Reception year children (aged four and five) and Year 6 children (aged 10 and 11) were measured to establish the prevalence of pupils who were underweight, healthy weight, overweight and obese.
The study showed:
Between 2007/08 and 2008/09 there were no significant changes in the prevalence rates for underweight, overweight, or obese children for both age groups.
And, in 2008/09 more boys than girls were overweight and obese in both Reception and Year 6.
In Reception class, 24.0% of boys were overweight or obese, while 21.5% of girls were overweight or obese.
The proportion of children in Reception class who were overweight or obese was 22.8% of which 9.6% were obese.
In Year 6, the proportion of children who were overweight or obese was 32.6–34.5% among boys and 30.7% among girls.
The proportion of Year 6 pupils who were obese was 18.3%.
Obesity prevalence was significantly higher than the national average in the London, North East and West Midlands strategic health authority areas for both age groups.
Chief executive of The NHS Information Centre Tim Straughan said: "This is the fourth year of the programme and participation in the study has grown to more than a million children.
"The study shows that the number of children starting their school life either overweight or obese is just over one in five and that it is even higher in Year 6 where nearly one in three pupils is either overweight or obese.
"These findings echo very closely the picture that emerged from last year's study. They highlight the scale of obesity among some of our young children – something which may affect their future health."
"Yes this shows that obesity is increasing. However, please can someoneexplain why over a million children need to be measured in order toshow this trend? Most other trends are demonstrated by measuring arepresentative sample of the population. Surely this would be a morecost-effective means of examining obesity trends. The currentmeasurement programme is hugely time-consuming for school health teams"- Catherine Gleeson, Yorkshire