Obesity rates drop among primary school children, statistics show

Anti-obesity drugs now advised for some children in US

New statistics show obesity prevalence among four and five year olds in reception classes fell below 10% in 2022/23.

Statistics published yesterday by NHS England show that obesity prevalence among four and five-year-olds in reception classes fell to 9.2% in 2022/23 – down from 10.1% in 2021/22.

The highest recorded figure was in 2020/21 where it sat at 14.4%. This decrease signals a return to pre-pandemic levels for this age group and, according to NHS England, marks one of the lowest levels since 2006/07.

The National Child Measurement Programme England, 2022/23 report also noted a drop in the proportion of year six children living with obesity.

For example, it fell to 22.7% in 2022/23 – down from 23.4% in 2021/22 and 25.5% in 2020/21. However, it remained higher than the 2019/20 pre-pandemic level of 21%.

Socioeconomic factors

Statistics also show that the levels of obesity in reception-aged children living in the most deprived areas (12.4%) were more than double those in the least deprived areas (5.8%).

The prevalence of severe obesity was more than three times higher in the most deprived areas (3.8%) compared with those living in the least deprived areas (1.2%).

Similarly, the prevalence of obesity among year six children was 30.2% in the most deprived areas, compared with 13.1% in the least deprived areas.

The prevalence of severe obesity was more than four times higher among year 6 children in the most deprived areas (9.2%) compared with those living in the least deprived areas (2.1%).

Diabetes programme

Tackling obesity has been high on the agenda in UK healthcare, with tens of thousands of people living with early onset type 2 diabetes in England set to receive targeted care as part of a new NHS programme.

Called T2Day (type 2 diabetes in the young), the programme will help around 140,000 people aged 18-39 to better manage their diabetes. It will provide extra one-to-one reviews as well as the option of new medicines and treatments where necessary.

It will also provide additional tailored health checks from healthcare staff and support with diabetes management, such as blood sugar level control, weight management and cardiovascular risk minimisation.

The £14.5 million initiative will be rolled out by local health teams to both minimise the risk of these people developing health complications and to support a reduction in health inequalities.

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