Almost a third of London Year 6 pupils are OBESE, shocking figures reveal

The rise was the highest since the programme began

Almost a third of Year 6 children in London are classed as obese or severely obese, shocking figures reveal.

Dr Max Davie, a leading official at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, described the rise in the levels of obesity as “alarming”.

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NHS Digital put together the data based on the height and weight of more than one-million children in Reception and Year 6 in primary schools across England.

In London, the prevalence of obesity in children for Year 6 pupils was a shocking 30% in 2020/21 - the latest available data.

That’s a significant rise from the obesity from 23.7% the previous year.

And in Reception-age youngsters in London, the number of obese children increased by 53% in just one year.

There were 15.3% of four to five-year-olds obese or severely obese in 2020/21, up from 10% in 2019/20.

Primary school children enjoying a meal

And London has a higher obesity rate that the rest of the country.

Across England, there has been an increase in the number of children in Reception who are obese from 19/20 (10%) to 20/21 (14%).

In Year 6 pupils, the figure has risen from 21% in 19/20 to 25.5% in 20/21.

The data also shows that children who live in the most deprived areas are twice as likely to be obese than children in the least deprived areas.

Boys were found to have had a higher prevalence to obesity than girls in both age groups analysed.

According to the results, 14.8% of boys in Reception were obese compared to 14.1% of girls

In Year 6, 29.2% of boys were obese compared to 21.7% of girls.

Commenting on the figures, Dr Davie, officer for health improvement at the Royal College, said: “This sharp increase in obesity levels across childhood is alarming.

“While lockdown may have been a key factor, we mustn’t assume that this year’s results are an aberration since there may be other factors, including mental health difficulties, which will take time to address.”

Dr Davie believes more needs to be done to tackle poverty, which he sees as a factor in the rise of childhood obesity.

He added: “One factor we must focus on is poverty. Every year we see the gap between the most and least deprived children widen.

“Obesity is increasingly a disease of poverty in the UK and any attempts to address this problem therefore need to be focused on these groups and the causes for their increased vulnerability.”