NHS Digital figures show an increase in obesity prevalence in primary school children

NHS Digital has published figures from the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) in England which show the prevalence of obesity in reception age children has risen in the second successive year. Obesity prevalence was more than twice as high among children in year six than in reception age children, where more than one in three children were either overweight or obese in 2016-17.

The NCMP measures the height and weight of over one million children in England annually and provides robust data on the number of children in reception and year 6 who are underweight, healthy weight, overweight or obese.

The 2016-17 report also showed that obesity prevalence for children living in the most deprived areas was more than double of those living in the least deprived areas, and the difference in obesity prevalence between children attending schools in the most and least deprived areas has increased over time.

Caroline Cerny, Obesity Health Alliance Lead, said:

“Each year the childhood obesity statistics tell the same devastating story. Obesity continues to rise and it’s the children from the most deprived backgrounds who have the odds stacked against them. Nearly one in ten children are obese when they first start school and children from the most deprived areas are more than twice as likely to be affected.

“The Government says that tackling obesity is a priority. The soft drinks levy and the sugar reduction programme are both positive steps. But a real commitment to tackling obesity means also getting to grips with the environment in which our children grow up.  Adverts for unhealthy foods have a significant impact on consumption habits, and we want to see immediate action to restrict junk food marketing at children - both online and on TV before the 9pm watershed.

“Failing to tackle obesity means failing our children, and if today’s figures tell us anything, it’s that there’s a long way to go before the battle is won.”


For further comment, please contact:

Melissa Milner - melissa.milner@rcpch.ac.uk / 0207 092 6005

The full report can be read on the NHS Digital website.