New data shows that obesity in four and five-year-olds rose from 9.5% in 2017/18 to 9.7% in 2018/19, equating to 58,000 children.
The data, presented in the National Child Measurement Programme, measured the height and weight of over one million children in England, and found that 22.6% of reception age - four and five-year-olds - children and 34.3% of year six children were either overweight or obese.
It also revealed that severe obesity prevalence was higher in year six students, (4.4%) compared to reception (2.4%).
Further findings showed that in both age groups, obesity prevalence was higher for boys than for girls. For reception-age children, 10.0% of boys were obese compared to 9.4% of girls.
Despite the rise in obesity among reception aged children, obesity prevalence was 20.2% in 2018-19 for year six students, a similar level to 2017/18, when it was 20.1%.
Caroline Cerny, alliance lead at the Obesity Health Alliance, said that “Every child has the right to grow up healthy, but these data shows the stark reality is that children are being overwhelmed by a flood of unhealthy food in our environment. The number of children with a weight classified as severely obese is at an all-time high and this will be damaging their health now and in the future.”
She continued to explain that the problem that can be fixed with “bold and comprehensive action from our politicians who have the power to shape the environment our children are growing up in. It’s time for the Government to bring in the measures that we know will stem the tide of unhealthy food marketing and promotions, starting with the long overdue 9pm watershed on junk food adverts on TV and online.”
The survey also found that obesity prevalence was “at least double” for children living in the most deprived areas, compared to those living in the least deprived areas.