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Call for urgent action over obesity among children

12 December 2008

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Statistics showing levels of obesity among children in England are the same as last year have led to calls for radical measures to tackle the problem.

Data from the NHS Information Centre shows almost a quarter of four to five-year-olds in the country’s primary schools are overweight or obese. And almost one in three children aged 10 to 11 are also overweight or obese, the figures showed.

The data, drawn from the National Child Measurement Programme, found that little had changed in respect to the proportion who were overweight or obese 12 months ago.

The programme measures the weight of children in reception class (four to five-year-olds) and Year 6 (aged 10 to 11) in primary schools in England.

Almost a million children took part in the 2007/08 programme, with 88% of those eligible being weighed and measured.

The scheme has attracted criticism in recent years because parents can “opt out” of having their children weighed and measured.

Research has suggested that the heaviest children opt out of the programme, leaving campaigners suggesting it fails to offer a true picture of childhood obesity in England.

National Obesity Forum spokesman Tam Fry called for the extra action after admitting he was unsurprised that the Department of Health’s measures was failing to reverse the obesity trend.

Copyright © Press Association 2008

National Obesity Forum