Obesity rising among final year primary school children, says new report
- National Child Measurement Programme also shows obesity fall in Reception Year pupils
* Regional informaiton to local authoirty level available from this report
The proportion of children in England who are obese in their final year of primary school is rising; new NHS Information Centre figures show today.
In 2010/11; 19.0 per cent of Year 6 children measured as part of the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) were obese, compared to 18.7 per cent in 2009/10 and 17.5 per cent in 2006/7 (the first year for which reliable information is available).3
In the same year group, another 14.4 per cent of children were overweight in 2010/11, compared to 14.6 per cent in 2009/10 and 14.2 per cent in 2006/07.
However the proportion of Reception Year children who were obese in 2010/11 fell to 9.4 per cent; compared to 9.8 per cent in 2009/10 and 9.9 per cent in 2006/07. The proportion measured as overweight in the same age group was 13.2 per cent; compared to 13.3 per cent in 2009/10 and 13.0 per cent in 2006/07.
The NCMP measures the height and weight of children in Reception class (four to five-year-olds) and Year 6 (ten to 11-year-olds) in primary schools in England to establish the prevalence of pupils who are ‘underweight’, ‘healthy weight’, ‘overweight’ and ‘obese’.
Participation in the programme has increased year on year since it was first introduced in 2005 and now more than a million pupils take part; about 93 per cent of eligible pupils.
The study also showed that in 2010/11:
- Of England’s 10 regions (Strategic Health Authority, or SHA, areas); London SHA recorded the highest prevalence of obesity for both year groups – at 11.1 per cent of reception children and 21.9 per cent of Year 6 Children. South Central SHA recorded the lowest prevalence for both age groups at 8.1 per cent of Reception year and 16.5 per cent of Year 6 pupils.
- Obesity is more prevalent in schools in deprived areas, as also noted in previous years. 6.9 per cent of Reception Year children from schools in the least deprived areas were obese, compared to 12.1 per cent of children from schools in the most deprived areas. Among Year 6 children; 13.8 per cent were obese from schools in the least deprived areas, compared to 23.7 per cent of children from schools in the most deprived areas.
- Obesity is more prevalent in urban areas, as also noted in previous years. 9.7 per cent of Reception Year children from schools in urban areas were obese, compared to 7.8 per cent of children from schools in village areas. Among Year 6 children; 19.6 per cent were obese from schools in urban areas, compared to 15.9 per cent of children from schools in the village areas.
- The proportion of Reception Year children recorded as underweight was 1.0 per cent; a greater proportion that in 2009/10 (0.9 per cent) but a smaller proportion than in 2006/07 (1.3 per cent). The proportion of Year 6 children recorded as underweight was 1.3 per cent; similar to the previous year (1.3 per cent) and a smaller proportion than in 2006/07 (1.5 per cent)
Chief Executive of the NHS Information Centre Tim Straughan said: “More than one million children in England are measured as part of the National Child Measurement Programme, which shows today that while the proportion of four-to-five year olds who are obese has fallen, the opposite has happened among 10 and 11-year-olds.
“This means that while fewer than one in 10 children in Reception Year are obese; for children in their final year of primary school this prevalence is nearly one in every five.”
The full report is at www.ic.nhs.uk/ncmp
Notes to editors
- The NHS Information Centre for health and social care (The NHS IC) is England’s authoritative, central, independent source of health and social care information. It works with a wide range of health and social care providers nationwide to provide the facts and figures that help the NHS and social services run effectively. Its role is to collect data, analyse it and convert it into useful information which helps providers improve their services and supports academics, researchers, regulators and policymakers in their work. The NHS IC also produces a wide range of statistical publications each year across a number of areas including: primary care, health and lifestyles, screening, hospital care, population and geography, social care and workforce and pay statistics.
- Established in 2005, the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) for England weighs and measures children in Reception (typically aged 4–5 years) and Year 6 (aged 10–11 years) and enables detailed analysis of prevalence and trends in child overweight and obesity levels. The data are key to improving understanding of overweight and obesity in children. They are used at a national level to inform policy and locally to inform the planning and commissioning of services. The NCMP also provides local areas with an opportunity to raise public awareness of child obesity and to assist families to make healthy lifestyle changes through provision of a child’s result to their parents. Central collation and analysis of the NCMP data has been coordinated by The NHS Information Centre for health and social care (NHS IC) since 2006/07. Data are supplied locally by Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) with the support and co-operation of schools, in line with guidance from the Department of Health Obesity Team.
- When examining prevalence rates it is also important to consider how the participation rate might affect the calculated prevalence figures. Analyses performed in 2007/08 concluded that a lower participation rate may lead to an underestimation of prevalence for obese children for Year 6, but had little or no effect on prevalence for Reception children. It is estimated that Year 6 obesity prevalence is underestimated by around 1.3 percentage points for 2006/07, around 0.8 percentage points for 2007/08, and around 0.7 percentage points for 2008/09 due to obese children being more likely to opt of out being measured than other children. The upper confidence intervals associated with Year 6 prevalence estimates were extended to address this potential underestimation in each of these years. Similar analysis carried out on the 2009/10 dataset showed that it was no longer appropriate to extend the confidence intervals around Year 6 obesity prevalence figures. This was again monitored in 2010/11 and although a slight effect was found, it was considered negligible, requiring no adjustment to either prevalence estimates or the associated confidence intervals.
- The comparisons that feature in this press notice have all been determined to be statistically significant. Improvements in data quality over time can also affect prevalence figures. Although no analysis has been carried out to quantify any impact on the 2010/11 data, this should also be considered when making comparisons over time as it may partly explain any observed changes; both those deemed significant (as defined above) and non significant (determined to be disparities where sampling variation could account for the differences).
- The information presented on urban/rural areas is based on the child postcode and uses ONS classification grouped into three categories; ‘Village, hamlet and isolated dwellings’, ‘Town and fringe’ and ‘urban’. Further details are available at:
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