Childhood obesity levels in England have reached the highest on record, new NHS figures reveal.
The percentage of overweight and obese 10 to 11-year-olds has increased over the last decade, the data from the National Childhood Measurement Programme show.
The number of overweight or obese children leaving primary school in England went from 178,868 in 2006/07 to 198,036 in 2015/16 – an increase of 19,168 over the last 10 years.
Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK’s director of prevention, said: “Our nation has hit a devastating record high for childhood obesity.
“The trend over the last decade is showing no signs of slowing down, and this worrying news is something that could have been prevented with more government action.
The Government released its childhood obesity plan in August, which included measures such as a sugar tax and reducing the amount of sugar in junk food.
“The Government still has a chance to save lives,” added Cox, who said that measures like the sugar tax and plans to reduce the amount of sugar in food were welcome steps to tackle childhood obesity.
“[government] has already recognised the influence of junk food marketing on children by banning junk food advertising during children’s programmes. It’s time now to stop this influential marketing before 9pm,” she added.
The new data show that while the proportion of children who are overweight has stayed largely the same, obesity levels have risen in the last year. This is even the case for the youngest children being measured, aged 4.
More than one in three (34.2%) children in year 6 (aged 10 to 11) were classed as overweight or obese in 2015/16, up from 33.2% the previous year and 31.6% in 2006/07.
More than one in five children (22.1%) were either overweight or obese in reception year (aged 4 to 5), up on 21.9% the previous year, but under the 22.9% in 2006/07.
When it comes to obesity alone, 9.3% of children in reception class were obese in 2015/16, up from 9.1% the year before.
One in five (19.8%) of those in year 6 were obese, up from 19.1% the year before.