Learning more about childhood obesity

28 March 2017

A new study by Public Health England follows 33,000 individual children from four different local authorities to track their weight from Reception to Year 6.

The National Childhood Measurement programme gathers data on height and weight in Reception and Year 6 which gives us an indication of obesity levels in England but this is the first time we've been able to track individual children to show how their weight status changes throughout their time at primary school. The report suggests that being overweight or obese in reception is strongly linked to being overweight or obese in Year 6. For children who were overweight in Reception, about a third remained overweight, another third became obese and about one in ten became severely obese by Year 6, supporting the need for urgent action to help children return to a healthy weight.

It's encouraging to read that some children (around 27% overweight and 16% obese) with an unhealthy weight in Reception were able to achieve a healthy weight by Year 6 so now it's time to understand how this was achieved so that we can help other children and families reverse unhealthy weight.

PHE say "Talking about a child’s weight can no longer be taboo. Most of us would take action if a child were to take up smoking; we as a society must realise that excess weight in childhood is not only dangerous, but a treatable and avoidable condition affecting the future of our children."

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