Levels of obesity among 10-11-year olds has hit record high, according to Public Health England.
The study showed that in 2016/17 there were 190,574 Year 6 pupils who were either overweight or obese. In 2017/18 an extra 7,314 children in Year 6 fell into this category.
According to PHE, around 5 in 100 children aged 10-11 years old are now in the highest weight category.
The data comes from the National Child Measurement Programme that measures the height and weight of children in mainstream state primary schools in England.
Eustace de Sousa, national lead for children at Public Health England, said the figures are a reminder that addressing childhood obesity is a problem for the whole of society.
“We owe it to current and future generations to act now,” she said.
The study also found that obesity rates varied depending on where children lived. Almost 27 in 100 Year 6 pupils living in deprived areas were obese, compared to almost 12 in 100 in the least deprived regions.
Cancer Research UK’s expert on cancer prevention, Professor Linda Bauld, called the link between obesity and socio-economic background alarming.
She said that if a person is obese as a child, they are around five times more likely to be obese as an adult, when excess weight increases their risk of developing cancer.
“Obesity in adulthood is the second biggest cause of cancer in the UK after smoking,” said Bauld, “which makes it vital to halt the rise in the number of children who are overweight.”
Bauld added that Cancer Research UK is leading calls for the Government to do more to tackle childhood obesity.
“That’s why Cancer Research UK is calling for the government to bring in a 9pm watershed on junk food adverts on TV and similar protection for children viewing adverts on-demand and online as quickly as possible.”
NHS England (2018) National Child Measurement Programme, England – 2017/18 School Year