Children from deprived areas are almost twice as likely to be obese as those from more affluent areas.
A Public Health England (PHE) report showed 12% of reception age (4-5 years) children living in the most deprived areas of England were obese, compared to just 6% in the least deprived area.
Using figures from the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) the researchers also noted that the trend continued in Year 6 (10-11 years) children with 24% obese in deprived areas and 12% obese in less deprived areas.
The researchers concluded that inequalities between social groups have “widened”.
The report said: “In reception obesity prevalence is decreasing among children living in the least deprived areas, but remaining broadly the same in the most deprived areas.
“In Year 6 the most deprived areas are seeing increases in obesity prevalence whereas prevalence remains relatively stable in the least deprived areas.”
Changes in children’s body mass index between 2006/07 and 2011/12, was presented this week by Caroline Hancock, PHE senior public health analyst at Public Health England.
She said: “Obesity in children has been the subject of intense scrutiny in recent years. It is well known that the UK has a serious problem in this area.”
The study used information from the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP), an annual programme which measures the height and weight of over 1 million children in England in Reception (4 to 5 years) and Year 6 (10 to 11 years).