Childhood obesity

Children who are overweight or obese are more likely to become obese adults and have a higher risk of long term conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease (among others) and premature death. Children who are obese are also more likely to be absent from school due to illness and are at increased risk of stigmatisation, bullying and low self-esteem (Rees and others, 2009), which has significant consequences for mental and physical health (Griffiths and others, 2011), (Wijga and others, 2010).

There is strong evidence that once established, obesity is difficult to reverse through interventions and tracks through to adulthood (Waters 2011)>. Through effective prevention the harmful consequences of obesity can be avoided.

How has the proportion of obese 4-5 year old children changed over time?

Overall, the proportion of children in Reception (aged 4-5 years) who are obese, overweight, healthy weight, or underweight has remained relatively unchanged since 2006/07. In 2016/17, approximately 22.6% of children aged 4-5 years were overweight or obese.

Updated January 2018.

How has the proportion of obese 10-11 year old children changed over time?

One in five children in Year 6 (aged 10-11 years) were obese in 2016/17 (20.0%). This is over twice as high as the proportion of children in Reception who were obese (9.6%). The proportion of children aged 10-11 who are obese has increased by 2.5 percentage points since 2006/07. The proportion of children who are overweight or underweight has remained relatively stable over this time period.

About this data

The National Childhood Measurement Programme (NCMP) was introduced in 2005/06 and collects height and weight measurements of children in Reception (aged 4-5 years) and Year 6 (aged 10-11 years) in state schools in England. The programme now holds eleven years of data and annually measures over one million children. The NCMP provides robust data for the child excess weight indicators in the Public Health Outcomes Framework, and is a key element of the Government's approach to tacking child obesity. Public Health England (PHE) has responsibility for national oversight of the programme and local authorities have the statutory right to deliver it.

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