Severe obesity rates double during primary school, figures show

The sugar levy which has put up the cost of sweetened fizzy drinks has caused millions of Britons to drink healthier alternatives

This compares with 14,787 out of 629,359 (2.35%) of four and five-year-olds in reception class.

The findings indicate that between starting and leaving school, average percentage rates of schoolchildren in the "severely obese" category, nearly doubles from 2.4% to 4.1%.

More than 22,000 kids in England and Wales aged 10 and 11 are severely obese when they leave primary school, a report by the Local Government Association (LGA) warned Tuesday.

The figures, released by Public Health England (PHE), showed that 25.5 per cent of primary school leavers in Brent were obese, while more than four in ten carried "excess weight".

For adults, a person who has a BMI of 40 is considered to be obese.

The Local Government Association, which analysed data from the National Child Measurement Programme, said that severe child obesity rates were "contributing to a multibillion-pound ill-health time bomb".

"Downing Street continually refuses to give town halls the power to stop takeaways opening up to sell junk food, a root cause of childhood obesity".

The data reveals 22,646 of 556,452 children (4%) aged 10 and 11 are in the highest body mass index (BMI) category, almost double the 14,787 of 629,359 children aged four and five (2%) classed as severely obese.

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The LGA also emphasised the need for "targeted intervention" to tackle disproportionately high rates of obesity among children in the most deprived areas, and those from minority ethnic groups.

MPs have called for a ban on the use of cartoon characters to advertise foods like McDonalds, KFC, and Burger King that are high in fat, sugar or salt.

But the LGA said such prevention work, including the ability of councils to provide weight management services for children and adults, is being hampered by a £600m cut to local authority public health budgets between 2015-16 and 2019-20.

The Health and Social Care Committee's report focusses on a few key areas which it believes require the most urgent attention; the government is then expected to publish its own updated version of the childhood obesity plan that was first made live two years ago.

Chairman of the health and wellbeing board at Barnet council, Cllr Caroline Stock, said: "We recognise that child obesity is an important issue that must be tackled and we remain firmly committed to ensuring children and young people in Barnet pursue healthier lifestyles". Severe obesity can also shorten a person's life by 10 years - an equivalent loss to the effects of lifelong smoking.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: "Our childhood obesity plan is among the most comprehensive in the world - 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".

"However, we have always been very clear that this is the not the final word on obesity, and we have not ruled out further action if the right results are not seen".

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