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Child obesity prevalence: national programme reports its lowest level on record for Reception Year children

26 November, 2015: New analysis also shows the difference in obesity prevalence between the most and least deprived areas has increased over time

*HSCIC must be quoted as the source of these figures

*Regional data is available within this report

The percentage of children in Reception Year2 who are obese has decreased to 9.1 per cent in 2014-15, according to new figures published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) today.

National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) - England, 2014-15 reports that this is lower than the first collection of HSCIC data in 2006-073, when it was 9.9 per cent. The prevalence of obese or overweight4 children in Reception Year is 21.9 per cent, having also fallen from 2006-07, when it was 22.9 per cent.

The latest figures are the lowest to be recorded by the NCMP, which provides a detailed analysis of underweight, healthy weight, overweight or obese children in Reception and Year 6. By comparison, obesity prevalence among Year 6 children has increased since 2006-07. Nearly a fifth (19.1 per cent) of Year 6 children were obese and almost a third (33.2 per cent) of Year 6 children were either overweight or obese. Both of these figures are higher than in 2006-07 (17.5 per cent and 31.6 per cent respectively).

Today's publication includes new analysis which finds that the difference in obesity prevalence between children attending schools in the most and least deprived areas has increased over time. In 2014-15 the difference for Reception was 5.5 percentage points, compared to 4.6 percentage points in 2007-08. The equivalent figures for Year 6 were 12.0 in 2014-15 and 8.9 percentage points in 2007-08.5

The report also shows that in 2014-15:

  • Obesity prevalence for children living in the most deprived areas was double that of those living in the least deprived areas. In Reception Year, 12.0 per cent of children living in the most deprived areas were obese, compared to 5.7 per cent in the least deprived areas. There was a similar trend for Year 6 children (25.0 per cent and 11.5 per cent respectively).
  • There were variations in obesity prevalence at local authority level:6
    • In Reception, this ranged from the highest recorded prevalence (13.6 per cent) in Newham to the lowest (4.2 per cent) in Richmond upon Thames.
    • In Year 6, Southwark had the highest recorded prevalence (27.8 per cent), while Richmond-upon-Thames had the lowest (10.5 per cent).
  • Across both school years, obesity prevalence was higher among boys than girls. In reception, 9.5 per cent of boys and 8.7 per cent of girls were classified as obese. In Year 6, this was 20.7 per cent of boys and 17.4 per cent of girls respectively.
  • Children who were Black or Black British were most likely to be obese both in Reception (14.7 per cent) and Year 6 (27.9 per cent). Chinese children were least likely to be obese both in Reception (7.6 per cent) and Year 6 (18.1 per cent).

Paul Niblett, Responsible Statistician, said: "It is pleasing to see that obesity prevalence for Reception Year children is the lowest to be recorded by the National Child Measurement Programme.

"Today's findings also shed light on where improvements can continue to be made, thereby providing a valuable source of information for parents, policy makers and health professionals in encouraging a healthy lifestyle for children."

Read the full report at: www.hscic.gov.uk/pubs/ncmpeng1415

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) was established on April 1 2013 as an Executive Non Departmental Public Body (ENDPB). It is England's trusted data source, delivering high quality information and IT systems to drive better patient services, care and outcomes. Its work includes publishing more than 260 statistical publications annually; providing a range of specialist data services; managing informatics projects and programmes and developing and assuring national systems against appropriate contractual, clinical safety and information standards.

2. The National Child Measurement Programme collects height and weight measurements of children in Reception (aged 4-5 years) and Year 6 (aged 10-11 years) in schools in England. There was a 94 per cent participation rate in 2014-15.

3. The National Child Measurement Programme was established in 2005-06. The programme now holds nine years of reliable data; 2006-07 is the first year that the data are considered to be robust due to the low participation in 2005-06.

4. More information about the calculation of obese and overweight prevalence can be found in Annex C of the report: www.hscic.gov.uk/pubs/ncmpeng1415

5. Analyses by IMD decile in 2006/07 were not produced.

6. Local authority data is by the upper tier local authority where the child lives.

7. For media enquiries please contact media@hscic.gov.uk or 0300 30 33 888.

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