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Fall in childhood obesity recorded

The number of 10 and 11-year-olds who are obese or overweight has fallen for the first time in six years, according to new figures.

A third (33.3%) of Year 6 pupils measured in 2012/13 were obese or overweight, compared to 33.9% in the previous year, according to data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

Although the figure is still higher than in 2006/07, when the figure was 31.6%.

The proportion of children who were obese alone (18.9%) was lower than in 2011/12 (19.2%) but higher than in 2006/07 (17.5%).

The children were weighed and measured for the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) for England, which aims to assess levels of obesity in schoolchildren.

In reception year, which covers children aged four and five, the percentage who were obese and overweight also fell in 2012/13 compared to the previous year and remains lower than several years ago.

Some 22.2% of children were obese or overweight, lower than in 2011/12 (22.6%) and also lower than in 2006/07 (22.9%).

The proportion of children who were obese alone was 9.3%, down on the 9.5% in 2011/12 and the 9.9% in 20060/7.

The report also showed that obesity among children in the most deprived parts of England was almost double that of the least deprived.

Some 12.1% of reception year children attending schools in the most deprived areas were obese, compared to 6.4% in the least deprived areas.

Meanwhile, 24.2% of Year 6 children attending schools in the most deprived areas were obese, compared to 13% in the least deprived.

HSCIC chairman Kingsley Manning said: "These figures provide clear insight into the weight of the next generation on both a national and local scale.

"The first drop in obesity prevalence among Year 6 stands out, although we will need to see what the numbers say in future years to determine if this is the start of a decline or more of a blip."

Professor Kevin Fenton, national director for health and wellbeing at Public Health England, said: " This levelling off in obesity levels at both these age groups is really promising.

"We will be monitoring these trends very closely to see if this can be maintained over future years and have an impact on overall obesity levels in the population.

"Maintaining a healthy weight is important for health and happiness during childhood and in adult life.

"While the results this year are positive, much remains to be done to create a sustained downward trend of obesity levels amongst children, and address health inequalities."

Tam Fry, from the National Obesity Forum, said: " At long last, a set of obesity figures showing a faint sign of improvement.

"The Government is right not to be too cocky about it since at least two or three years of similar statistics are required before breaking open the champagne.

"The country was told in 2008 that childhood obesity was levelling off but that piece of Whitehall spin met an early death.

"Unfortunately, these figures don't tell the full story - that children who are already obese are getting fatter and getting fatter earlier."

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