Over a fifth of children in Reception (aged four-five years) are obese according to the National Child Measurement Programme from 2015/16.
The programme measures the height and weight of children in Reception and Year Six to assess overweight and obesity in children within primary schools. For both age groups, the percentage of obese children has increased. In Reception it increased to 9.3% from 9.1%, and in Year Six to 19.8% from 19.1% since 2014/15.
Fiona Smith, professional lead for children and young people’s nursing, said that every obese child is at risk of many more problems that can follow them into adulthood. 'By raising an obese nation, we’re storing up countless problems for the future and leading millions of children towards a life of ill health,' she said.
Obesity prevalence was higher in boys than in girls and obesity prevalence for children living in the most deprived areas in both age groups was more than double that of those living in the least deprived areas.
Ms Young said that as health visitors, school nurses and many other children's public health roles' are under threat, it is no surprise that this problem is yet to improve.
Professor Russell Viner, officer for health promotion for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), said that these figures act as a stark reminder as to just how serious the UK’s obesity problem is. 'With over a fifth of reception children overweight or obese and a third of children in Year Six - a rise from last year’s figures, it is not an understatement to say we are entering a state of emergency,' he added.
The Childhood Obesity Strategy was relased in August after the date was set back twice. Its contents were met with criticism from healthcare professionals that it wasn't robust enough. Although it did recommend specified training for health visitors and school nurses, it did not go as far as taxes on unnecessary unhealthy foods, restrictions on fast food outlets near schools or banning advertising of junk foods, said Neena Modi, the president of the RCPCH said.