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National Child Measurement Programme shows increased obesity prevalence in primary schools

The prevalence of obesity has risen from 9.1 per cent in 2014-15 to 9.3 per cent in 2015-16 for children in reception (2) and from 19.1 per cent to 19.8 per cent for those in year 6.

*NHS Digital must be quoted as the source of these figures

*Regional data available within this report

Obesity prevalence was more than twice as high in year 6 (19.8 per cent) compared to reception (9.3 per cent), according to the National Child Measurement Programme, England - 2015/16 school year, published today by NHS Digital.

More than one in three children (34.2 per cent) in year 6 was either overweight or obese in 2015-16. More than one in five children (22.1 per cent) was overweight or obese in reception year.

The National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP)3 measures the height and weight of over one million children in England annually and provides robust data on which reception and year 6 children are underweight, healthy weight, overweight or obese.

Regional data included in the 2015-16 report show how obesity prevalence varies by local authority4. Richmond upon Thames had the lowest figure for reception at 5.1 per cent, compared to 14.7 per cent in Middlesbrough, which had the highest.

In 2015-16, Richmond upon Thames also had the lowest obesity prevalence in year 6 with 11.0 per cent and Barking and Dagenham had the highest with 28.5 per cent.

The 2015-16 report also showed:

  • Obesity prevalence for children in reception living in the most deprived5 areas (12.5 per cent) was more than double that of those living in the least deprived areas (5.5 per cent) . In year 6, 26.0 per cent of children living in the most deprived areas were obese compared to 11.7 per cent in the least deprived areas.
  • The difference in obesity prevalence6 between children attending schools in the most and least deprived areas has also increased over time. In 2015-16 the difference for reception was 6.2 percentage points, compared to 4.6 percentage points in 2007-087. The equivalent figures for year 6 were 12.4 in 2015-16 and 8.9 percentage points in 2007-08.
  • Obesity prevalence was higher for boys in both age groups. In reception, 9.6 per cent of boys and 9.0 per cent of girls were classified as obese. In year 6, this was 21.7 per cent of boys and 17.9 per cent of girls respectively.
  • Underweight prevalence was higher for boys in reception (1.2 per cent compared to 0.7 per cent for girls) but higher for girls in year 6 (1.5 per cent compared to 1.2 per cent for boys). The proportion of underweight children was also higher in year 6 (1.3 per cent) than in reception (1.0 per cent).

Responsible statistician, Paul Niblett, said: "This report is a valuable source of information for parents, policy makers and health professionals and these findings show where improvements to children's health can be made."

Read the full report at: http://digital.nhs.uk/pubs/ncmpeng1516

Notes to editors

1. NHS Digital is the national information and technology provider for the health and care system. Our team of information analysis, technology and project management experts create, deliver and manage the crucial digital systems, services, products and standards upon which health and care professionals depend. Our vision is to harness the power of information and technology to make health and care better. NHS Digital is the new trading name for the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC). We provide 'Information and Technology for better health and care'. Find out more about our role and remit at www.digital.nhs.uk

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) primarily in state-maintained schools in England. Any data collected from independent or special schools are excluded from this analysis. See "Coverage" in appendix B of the full report for more details.

3. The National Child Measurement Programme was launched in the 2005/06 academic year and now holds ten 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. There was a 95 per cent participation rate in 2015-16.

4. Local authority data reported here are by the upper tier local authority where the child lives. Data are also provided in the report for lower tier local authorities.

5. Deprivation is based on the postcode of the child.

6. Deprivation is based on postcode of the school in this comparison as postcode of the child was of poor quality in the early years of the NCMP.

7. Analyses by Index of Multiple Deprivation decile in 2006/07 were not produced.

8. Region based on postcode of the child.

9. For media enquires please contact media@nhsdigital.nhs.net or telephone 0300 30 33 888.

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