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'10% of reception children obese'

The proportion of obese children in reception year at primary school increased in 2013-14, with nearly one in 10 four to five-year-olds classed as obese, according to newly-released figures.

It also went up in children in Year 6, according to statistics released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

Childhood obesity has actually fallen from its peak in 2004 and 2005, since when levels have slightly decreased.

In 2013-14 9.5% of reception class children were obese, compared with 9.3% in 2012-13 but lower than in 2006-07 when it was 9.9%.

In Year 6 (those aged 10-11), the proportion of obese children was 19.1% in 2013/14, higher than in 2012-13 when it was 18.9% and also higher than in 2006-07 when it was 17.5%.

Childhood obesity overall peaked at 19% in 2004-5, but levels have been slightly lower since then, with the latest data indicating they were 16% for boys and 15% for girls - not statistically significantly different from those over the last three or four years, the HSCIC said.

Eustace de Sousa, national lead for children, young people and families at Public Health England, said: "Overall childhood obesity rates have remained stable since 2010 however for children from the poorest households levels have continued to worsen so there is no room for complacency.

"We know that almost one in 10 four to five-year-olds are obese (9.5%) and by age 10-11 this doubles to nearly one in five (19.1%). Obese children are more likely to experience bullying, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression and have a higher risk of becoming obese adults and developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease as a result."

A Local Government Association spokesman said: "Consecutive governments have failed to tackle the obesity crisis and councils, who only took over responsibility for public health less than two years ago, cannot be expected to reverse this overnight.

"Councils want to do everything they can to encourage sports activity and tackle obesity but are doing this in the face of unprecedented budget constraints across the board."

The spokesman continued: "This is why the LGA is calling for a fifth of existing VAT raised on sweets, crisps, takeaway food and sugary drinks to go to boost council-run grassroots initiatives with a proven track record, such as leisure activities and health awareness campaigns.

"This would create a £1 billion fund to help transform the lives of the millions of overweight or obese children in this country which would more than pay for itself by reducing the huge cost to the public purse of obesity."

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