Child obesity can be tackled by measuring children during their time at school, a campaigner has said.
Children acquire the majority of their excess weight during their last three years at primary school, according to Tam Fry, honorary chairman of the Child Growth Foundation.
He added that younger children, including those of pre-school age, should be included in the National Child Measurement Programme.
The recent Health Survey for England (HSE) showed primary school leavers had put on 20% more weight in a generation since 1990.
“The government was advised as long ago as 2004 to implement this but refused to do it,” said Mr Fry.
“We have to know when the early signs of unhealthy weight set in so that prevention measures can be put in place before weight becomes a problem.”
Figures released earlier this month showed almost one in four boys and more than one in five girls were overweight or obese at the start of their school life.
A further 35% of boys and 31% of girls in their final year of primary school – aged 10 and 11 – also have weight problems, the government survey showed.
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