Childhood obesity rates are still on the up, Government figures have shown.

The National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) for the 2019/20 school year has found that obesity levels in Reception have gone up from 9.7% in 2018-19 to 9.9% in 2019-20.

The pattern continues among Year 6 children, where obesity prevalence has increased from 20.2% in 2018-19 to 21% in 2019-20.

The report has also unveiled there is a big disparity between rich and poor areas.

The document showed that 27.5% of Year 6 kids, aged 10 and 11, living in poor areas of the country were obese.

In comparison, only 11.9% of children of the same age who come from more affluent areas were deemed obese.

The pattern continued in younger age groups with 13.3% of Reception children, aged between four and five, living in poorer areas were obese. Only 6% of the same aged kids from richer backgrounds were considered overweight.

Boys are more prone to piling on the pounds with 10.1% of Reception children being deemed obese, compared with 9.7% of girls. In Year 6, 23.6% of boys were obese compared to 18.4% of girls.

Childhood obesity has been a concern for a number of years as the condition can lead to type 2 diabetes. Public Health England has said that the number of children with an unhealthy and potentially dangerous weight is a “national public health concern”.

The Government has published a series of stages to its overall childhood obesity plan. A sugar tax on fizzy drinks has already been introduced and in July 2020 it said tight restrictions on junk-food advertising would be brought in.

However, Caroline Cerny, Alliance Lead at the Obesity Health Alliance, said stricter action needs to be introduced more quickly.

She said: “In a year when public health has been propelled to the forefront of politics, we now need action on child health – not just words. Taking junk food out of the spotlight through restrictions on marketing and promotions – including the long overdue 9pm watershed on junk food adverts – should be the first step. The sooner action is taken, the sooner we can give all children the chance to grow up healthy.”

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