Approximately 28% of young people were classed as overweight or obese the Health Survey for England 2015 has found.
Some 30% of boys were overweight or obese compared with 26% of girls aged between two and 15. Socioeconomically, children from lower income households are more likely to be obese compared with those from higher income households. Approximately 18% of children from households in the lowest income quintile were obese, compared to 9% living in households in the highest income quintile. Additionally, just 22% of children met the physical activity guidelines of being moderately active for at least 60 minutes every day.
'The worrying truth is that families and society at large are simply becoming oblivious to obesity because it has become so common’ said Neena Modi, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.
More positively, rates of smoking and drinking in those under the age of 16 have fallen sharply. The proportion of eight to 15 year olds who reported ever smoking a cigarette decreased from 19% in 2003 to just 4% in 2015.
'Teaching children life skills is so important and why the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health wants to see personal social and health education provided by all schools,' added Professor Modi. 'There is no better foundation that a civilised society can give children than knowledge about sexual, physical, and mental health that will stand them in good stead throughout life.'
Additionally, 16% of children reported trying an alcoholic drink, down from 45% in 2003. ‘There are some very encouraging findings such as fewer eight-15 year-olds smoking and drinking, findings that support efforts to provide strong public health messaging about these issues,' added professor Modi.
The Health Survey for England provides information on the health of adults aged 16 and over, and children aged 0 to 15. The survey consists of an interview, followed by a visit from a nurse who takes a number of measurements and samples, to determine the health of the participant.