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Child obesity rates 'on the rise'

image copyrightSPL
image captionChildren at primary schools in England are weighed in Reception and Year 6

Child obesity rates have shown a small rise in the past year in England, figures show.

The proportion of 10- and 11-year-olds who were obese in 2015-16 was 19.8%, up from 19.1% the year before.

Obesity among four- and five-year-olds - those in Reception year at school - hit 9.3%, up from 9.1%.

While the rises are small, they are being seen as significant because of previous signs obesity rates were no longer on the rise.

For the past few years there has been talk that the obesity rise seen over past two decades had levelled off.

But this is the second year in a row that rates for children aged 10 to 11 have gone up, according to the figures collected through the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP).

The rise is also the single biggest jump seen since the school measuring programme properly bedded in six years ago.

'State of emergency'

Professor Russell Viner, of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said it was a "stark reminder" of how serious the problem was.

He said the government needed to do more to tackle obesity following the publication of the child obesity strategy in the summer, which was widely criticised by health experts.

He called for more restrictions on junk food advertising and marketing.

"It is not an understatement to say we are entering a state of emergency," he added.

There are also signs the gap between the most obese areas and the least is growing.

The NCMP data showed Richmond upon Thames had the lowest prevalence rate at 11%, while Barking and Dagenham had the highest at 28.5% for 10- and 11-year-olds.

Once overweight children are included, the proportion nationally rises to 34.2%. For younger children it is 22.1%.

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