Responding to the latest set of data from the National Child Measurement Programme in England1, which shows that in Reception, obesity prevalence has increased to 14.4% in 2020/21 (up from 9.9% in the previous year) and in Year 6, obesity prevalence has increased to 25.5% (up from 21.0% in the previous year), BMA board of science chair Professor Dame Parveen Kumar said:
“The sharp rise in childhood obesity rates is shocking and a clear call to immediate action. Rather than seeing the improvements that the BMA has long called for, children and young people are at more risk than ever of obesity, and the serious health implications that carries.
“These data also expose the extremely shameful health inequalities that exist within society and the Government’s failure to act, with children living in the most deprived areas twice as likely to become obese than those in the least deprived.
“While today’s announcement of pilot clinics2 to support severely obese children across the country is welcome, we need much more comprehensive and widescale intervention. Mandatory measures are clearly necessary, including the strengthening of taxation of sugar and salt, as well as greater preventative measures underpinned by increased public health funding across the country.
“Given such a concerning rise in obesity in the last year, it is important that we assess the potential impact of the pandemic on obesity rates and look to mitigate any contributing factors. Crucially, it’s clear that the Government must make much more of a concerted effort to tackle this life-threatening epidemic which is denying children a healthy start in life.”