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Levels of obesity twice as high among children in most deprived areas

Levels of obesity twice as high among children in most deprived areas
By Jess Hacker
20 October 2023

Levels of obesity in reception-aged children living in the most deprived areas of England are more than double those in the least deprived areas, new data has shown.

According to NHS Digital, levels of obesity among children aged four-to-five in the worst-off areas of England stood at 12.4%, compared to 5.8% in more well off areas.

Likewise, the obesity rate among year six children was 30.2% in the most deprived areas compared to a far lower 13.1% in the least deprived.

The trend comes despite an overall decrease in the prevalence of obesity among younger children in England.

The level of obesity among reception-aged children dropped from 10.1% in 2021/22 to 9.2% in 2022/23, compared with the highest recorded figure in 2020/21 of 14.4%.

The decrease signals a return to pre-pandemic levels for the age group and is among the lowest levels since 2006/07, NHS Digital said.

The figures – which come as part of the National Child Measurement Programme, England, 2022/23 – also indicated that the majority of children in reception (77.5%) and year 6 (61.9%) were a healthy weight in 2022/23.

However, the proportion of reception-age children living with obesity varied significantly by region, with the highest number in the North East (11.3%) and the lowest in the South East (8%), East of England (8.1%) and South West (8.2%).

Among children in year six, the North East similarly had the highest number of children living with obesity (25.8%), followed by the West Midlands (25.2%) and London (24.8%).

The lowest numbers were found in the South West (19.4%) and the South East (19.4%).

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