Over a third of children in London are leaving primary school obese or overweight, according to statistics published this week by the Health and Social Care Information Centre. 

The report on the national child measurement programme in England for the 2014/15 school year shows that, on average, 37.2 per cent of children in year six in London are obese or overweight, with it nearing half of all children for some boroughs. This reflects a national trend of increasing obesity rates among children leaving primary school.

Living Streets, the UK charity for everyday walking, says that investment in the walk to school is needed to tackle physical inactivity and reduce the pressure put on the NHS by an inactive nation.

Recognising the wide-ranging benefits that walking to school brings the government has set a target for getting 55 per cent of primary school aged children walking to school by 2025 but Living Streets is concerned that if funds are not committed, this target will not be reached.

Tompion Platt, Head of Policy and Research, Living Streets said: “These figures are a sad reflection of our unhealthy lifestyles; diet is one aspect of this, but it’s also critical that we tackle physical inactivity - and investing in the walk to school is one of the best places to start.


“Walking to school is a free, accessible and easy way for children to build exercise into their day. This is especially important when we note that children from deprived areas are twice as likely to be obese than those living in the least deprived areas. Despite this the number of pupils walking to school is in serious decline. A generation ago over 70% of children walked to school.

Today this has dropped to 46%

A relatively small investment from the Government could help make walking the norm for millions of children, helping to cut childhood obesity. Things will only get worse if we don’t act soon

“Walking to school is a free, accessible and easy way for children to build exercise into their day. This is especially important when we note that children from deprived areas are twice as likely to be obese than those living in the least deprived areas. Despite this the number of pupils walking to school is in serious decline. A generation ago over 70% of children walked to school. Today this has dropped to 46%

“A relatively small investment from the Government could help make walking the norm for millions of children, helping to cut childhood obesity. Things will only get worse if we don’t act soon.” 

Key findings

Worst 5 London boroughs for obese or overweight 10-11 year olds:
- Southwark (43.6 per cent)
- Newham (42.8 per cent)
- Lambeth (41.7 per cent)
- Tower Hamlets (41.7 per cent)
- Hackney (41.1 per cent)

Most improved London boroughs for the amount of obese or overweight 10-11 year olds since 2006/7:
- Sutton
- Harrow
- Brent
- Richmond upon Thames
- Waltham Forest

Obesity prevalence among Year 6 children has increased since 2006-07. Nearly a fifth (19.1 per cent) of Year 6 children were obese and almost a third (33.2 per cent) of Year 6 children were either overweight or obese in 2014/5. Both of these figures are higher than in 2006-07 (17.5 per cent and 31.6 per cent respectively).

The difference in obesity prevalence between the most and least deprived areas has increased over time. Meaning obesity prevalence for children living in the most deprived areas was double that of those living in the least deprived areas. In Reception Year, 12.0 per cent of children living in the most deprived areas were obese, compared to 5.7 per cent in the least deprived areas. There was a similar trend for Year 6 children (25.0 per cent and 11.5 per cent respectively).


There were variations in obesity prevalence at local authority level. In Year 6, Southwark had the highest recorded prevalence (27.8 per cent), while Richmond-upon-Thames had the lowest (10.5 per cent).


Across both school years, obesity prevalence was higher among boys than girls. In reception, 9.5 per cent of boys and 8.7 per cent of girls were classified as obese. In Year 6, this was 20.7 per cent of boys and 17.4 per cent of girls respectively. Children who were Black or Black British were most likely to be obese both in Reception (14.7 per cent) and Year 6 (27.9 per cent).

 

Read the full report at: www.hscic.gov.uk/pubs/ncmpeng1415

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