Over 22000 10 and 11-year-olds are severely obese, research finds

Higher rates of tax should be slapped on unhealthy foods to help combat the obesity epidemic MPs said last night. File

Overall, 4.1% of pupils are severely obese by the end of primary school, compared to just 2.35% of reception pupils, suggesting that some are "gaining weight at a drastic rate as they go through school", says the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents local councils in England and Wales.

The MPs' report published today makes a series of recommendations for the government before it publishes an updated version of its childhood obesity plan.

It follows figures revealed yesterday, which warned that 22,000 children were leaving primary school severely obese.

The data measured obesity levels in primary school children in the United Kingdom for the year 2016/17.

Unsurprisingly, this is more of an issue in deprived areas, with five-year-olds from low-income backgrounds twice as likely - and 11-year-olds three times as likely - to be or become obese.

The LGA says action must be taken to prevent a generation of dangerously overweight children growing into a "multi-billion-pound ill-health time bomb".

Councillor Izzi Seccombe, chairwoman of the LGA's Community Wellbeing Board, said: "These new figures on severely obese children, who are in the most critical overweight category, are a further worrying wake-up call for urgent joined-up action".

There should be a 9pm watershed on the advertising of "junk" food and a total ban on having recognisable branded and licensed characters (i.e. ones that children identify with and admire) advertising HFFS (high fat, sugar and salt) products in the media.

But it added that this prevention work, including the ability of councils to provide weight management services for children and adults, is being hampered by a £600 million reduction in councils' public health budgets by central government between 2015/16 and 2019/20.

The Commons Health and Social Care Committee also wants more to be done to tackle obesity risks in the first 1,000 days of a child's life, including setting breastfeeding targets.

A BMI of more than 40 means adults are severely obese, but in children it is based on reference growth charts for boys and girls.

Severe obesity has been shown to shorten a person's life by ten...

"Obesity rates are highest for children from the most disadvantaged communities and this unacceptable health inequality has widened every year since records began".

"That's why we have the most ambitious plan in the world to tackle it, our sugar tax is funding school sports programmes and nutritious breakfasts for the poorest children, and we're investing in further research into the links between obesity and inequality".

"We've always said that our 2016 plan was the start of the conversation, not the final word on obesity".

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