"Childhood obesity is one of the greatest public health challenges we face, made all the more difficult by the impact of the pandemic on children’s activities and lifestyles."
Responding to the latest National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) statistics, which show that rates of children with an unhealthy weight have increased during the pandemic and that children living in the most deprived areas are more than twice as likely to be obese, than those living in the least deprived areas, Cllr David Fothergill, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:
“Childhood obesity is one of the greatest public health challenges we face, made all the more difficult by the impact of the pandemic on children’s activities and lifestyles.
“As these worrying figures show, there is still much to do to encourage healthier eating and habits if we are to avoid today’s obese children becoming tomorrow’s obese adults.
“Councils are doing all they can to support children and families to live healthy lives and reduce pressure on other public services, from health visitors supporting new parents to weight management services and subsidised leisure facilities, but more needs to be done, especially to reduce the gap between the most and least deprived.
“New powers and funding for councils are needed to build on this, including tackling the clustering of existing takeaways and restricting junk food advertising near schools.
“Money raised from the soft drinks industry levy should also be reinvested in other council-run programmes, including exercise referral schemes and offering free or reduced-cost sport.
“Investment in councils’ public health services now will reap benefits for everyone longer-term, including for the NHS as we look to build back better from COVID-19 and level up the future health chances of the next generation.”
Notes to editors
- National Child Measurement Programme 2020/21 School Year
- Figures show that in Reception, obesity prevalence has increased from 9.9 per cent in 2019/20 to 14.4 per cent in 2020/21 and in Year 6 from 21.0 per cent to 25.5 per cent.
- Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020/21 collection was carried out as a sample and statistical weighting was applied to the data to produce an estimate of obesity prevalence at national level. Data quality investigations determined that weighted 2020/21 data is representative of the population and results are broadly comparable to previous years.