More ten to eleven-year-olds in England are seriously obese than has ever been recorded, according to new research by Public Heath England (PHE).
The latest figures reveal that 4 in 100 Year 6 pupils are now classed as severely obese. It was 3 in 100 pupils in 2006.
Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said these trends were extremely worrying and that tackling them will take time.
“The rise in severe obesity and widening health inequalities highlight why bold measures are needed to tackle this threat to our children’s health.”
Government needs to help
In response to the figures, Cancer Research UK’s prevention expert, Professor Linda Bauld, called on the Government to push forward with its proposed ban on junk food advertising before 9pm.
“We know that advertising aimed at children plays a big part in the news we see today,” she said.
“Our research has shown that young people are more than twice as likely to be obese if they remember seeing a junk food advert every day compared to those who couldn’t recall any over a month.”
The National Child Measurement Programme records the height and weight of over one million children in Reception (aged four to five years) and Year 6 (aged ten to eleven years) each year.
Analysis of this data showed the number of children classed as severely obese has risen since 2006. Differences in children’s health were also observed across the country. Children in the most deprived areas were more likely to carry excess weight.
Bauld said: “It’s sad that severe obesity in children starting secondary school is at a record high, and that the gap in health inequalities is widening.”
She added that people from the most deprived communities were 40% more likely to remember seeing junk food adverts daily.
Research shows that obese children are more likely to become obese adults. Obesity in adulthood is the second biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking.