Dorset children finishing primary school overweight

Dorset children finishing primary school overweight

Published by Maria Greenwood at 10:21am 22nd October 2019.

Almost one in three children are overweight by the time they finish primary school in Dorset.

Almost one in three children are overweight by the time they finish primary school in Dorset.

According to NHS data, 29% of pupils in the county finished primary school classed as either obese or overweight last year. 

2% were classed as severely obese.

Campaign group the Obesity Health Alliance says children are surrounded by unhealthy food and drinks, and is calling for bold government action to prevent further harm.

sweets junk food

NHS Digital data shows 15% of Year 6 Pupils in Dorset in 2018-19 were obese. That's a slight increase on 13% in 2006-07.

Additionally, 14% of Year 6 pupils were classed as overweight last year.

The data also suggests that children often develop weight problems while at primary school.

In 2018-19, just 9% of Dorset's children were obese in Reception.

school pupils

Caroline Cerny, of the Obesity Health Alliance, a coalition of organisations working to reduce obesity, said children are growing up in an environment that is “flooded” with unhealthy food and drinks, which are damaging their health.

She added:

“It’s time for the Government to bring in the measures that we know will stem the tide of unhealthy food marketing and promotions, starting with the long overdue 9pm watershed on junk food adverts on TV and online.”

'What is obese?'

Public Health England works out obesity using the 1990 British growth reference chart, a large collection of statistics used to determine a child's BMI. It defines a child as obese if their BMI is in the chart's top 5%, and overweight if they are in the top 15%.

Obesity can lead to heart problems and type 2 diabetes later in life, as well as psychological issues such as low self-esteem and depression.

junk food versus fruit

NHS chief executive Simon Stevens said obesity is a “dangerous public health threat” for children, and that the figures show the country is not on track to meet the Government's goal of halving childhood obesity.

"While the NHS will be there for patients, services and budgets will obviously be placed under more strain,” he added.

“So we also need combined action from parents, businesses and government to safeguard our children from this preventable harm.”

fruit and veg

Public health minister Jo Churchill said:

“This problem has been decades in the making but we can turn this around.

“Our world-leading childhood obesity plan will help all families by making the healthiest choice the easiest choice, whether at home, at school, or at play.

“We are working with councils to tackle child obesity locally through new and ground-breaking programmes, cutting large amounts of sugar from food and soft drinks, and investing millions to give children opportunities to exercise in schools.”