Record numbers of children aged ten and 11 are severely obese, official figures have revealed.
The proportion of Year Six leavers classed as having severe obesity has increased by 28 per cent in a decade.
A total of 4.1 per cent were classified as having the condition in 2016/17, up from 3.17 per cent in 2006/7.
In a decade the number of Year 6 leavers classed as ‘obese’ has gone up by 28 per cent
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An 11-year-old girl who was severely obese would typically weigh 9st 4lb – two stone heavier than she should be.
A severely obese boy of the same age would weigh just under nine stone. Boys tend to be lighter at that age as they often haven’t started puberty, unlike most girls.
The figures were compiled by Public Health England, who said they were ‘extremely worrying’ and very difficult to reverse. Researchers have previously warned that severe obesity is as bad for someone’s health as a lifetime of smoking.
A severely obese adult dies ten years earlier than someone of a normal weight and is much more likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Previous figures have shown that a fifth of children who leave primary school are obese, and a third are either overweight or obese.
Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said: ‘The rise in severe obesity and widening health inequalities highlight why bold measures are needed to tackle this threat to our children’s health. These trends are extremely worrying and have been decades in the making – reversing them will not happen overnight.’
Dr Max Davie, of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: ‘Although shocking, this new data is not surprising.
‘For many years we have been calling for bold action and it appears for these young children, it did not come soon enough.’
Professor Jonathan Valabhji, National Clinical Director for Obesity and Diabetes at NHS England, said: ‘The country’s growing obesity epidemic poses problems for the NHS but is also extremely worrying for the nation’s overall health as obesity in childhood paves the way to obesity in adulthood.’
Last month the Government published an updated obesity strategy, which ordered all restaurants to reveal their calorie counts on their menus.
They are also consulting on banning discount deals on snacks and ‘guilt lanes’ at supermarket checkouts, lined with sweets and chocolate.
But critics described the strategy as ‘namby-pamby’ and accused ministers of caving in to the food industry.
They have asked firms to meet voluntary targets on sugar, fat and calorie reduction but evidence in May suggested these were having little impact.
Severe obesity is defined by a child’s body mass index, or BMI, the relationship between their weight and their height. Children are classed as being severely obese if their BMI is in the highest 0.4 per cent for their age.
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