Public Health England recently took on a monumental study, mapping the waistlines of 10 and 11-year-olds in the UK. The study, using data obtained from local authorities through the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP).
As a way to assess obesity levels within primary schools, The National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) measures the height and weight of children in reception class (aged 4 to 5 years) and year 6 (aged 10 to 11 years). Services for children and public health initiatives are often planned off the back of this research.
The study holds UK National Statistics status and is recognised internationally as a leading source of public healthy data intelligence. The NCMP was set up with the Government’s strategy to tackle obesity and help with planning for public health, gathering trends, increase understanding of health issues due to weight.
Children’s heights and weights are measured and used to calculate a Body Mass Index (BMI) figure, healthcare professionals control the observations in schools.
The figures for 2016/17 show the London borough of Brent has the biggest percentage (43.9%) of 11-year-olds classed as overweight or obese. Nearly half that percentage of children are obese or overweight in the best performing area - Richmond-upon-Thames at 25.2%, only 5 miles from Brent.
According to the results, the five areas with the highest percentage of overweight or obese children are:
- Brent, London - 43.9%;
- Barking and Dagenham, London - 43.8%;
- Wolverhampton, West Midlands - 43.2%;
- Sandwell, West Midlands - 43.1%;
- Westminster, London - 43.1%.
The five areas with the lowest percentage of overweight or obese children are:
- Richmond upon Thames, London - 25.2%;
- Rutland – 25.4%;
- Brighton and Hove – 25.4%;
- Wokingham – 26.5%;
- Surrey – 26.8%.
Professor Neena Modi, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said, ‘These figures are a shocking reflection of the deep inequity within UK society today. The prevalence of obesity in children is almost doubled across areas just 5 miles apart. These figures are also a deep indictment of failure to recognise the life-long health impact of growing up in poverty.
'Government must recognise evidence that could not be clearer; recognise the multifactorial determinants of child obesity, and the appalling life-long consequences, adopt a “child health in all policies” approach, and reap rewards for successive generations; ignore child health and its determinants and the entire nation pays the price.'