In England, obesity rates have risen among children and it is concerning health officials. Children between the ages of 10-11 years old have been classified as severely overweight.
Defining Childhood Obesity
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity is measured by using the body mass index (BMI) tool. BMI is determined by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by the square of height in meters.
For children and teenagers, the BMI is age and gender specific. When deducing a child’s BMI, their weight status is determined by using age and gender percentile rather than the regular BMI categories that are used for adults. For adults, a person who has a BMI of 40 is considered to be obese.
Children and teenager’s weight is categorized by range. For example, if a child has a normal or healthy weight, he or she is categorized in the 5th percentile to less than 85th percentile. For those who are overweight, they would be categorized in the 85th to 95th percentile, and for children considered to be obese, they would fall under the 95th percentile or greater group.
Obesity can lead to severe health problems and can also shorten a person’s lifespan by ten years.
Obesity Rates In England
New data has shown that 1 in 25 children are obese or overweight. According to the height and weight measurements, the number of children classified as obese rose from 15,000 in reception to 25,000 by the time they are in year 6 of primary school.
The Local Government Association (LGA) stated that children are drastically gaining weight while they are in school and action is needed to change this. In England, it is mandatory that all children’s weight and height are measured when they start and leave primary school.
The analysis gathered from 2016-2017 showed that 1 in 40 children aged 4-5 who were in reception are obese. This data amounts to 15,000 out of 629,000 children. By the time these children are between the ages 10-11, more than 1 in 25 of them are likely to fall in the obese category–that amounts to 22,000 out of 556,000 kids.
What Can Be Done?
The LGA has cautioned that children who are obese are at risk of having their healthy adult lives cut short.
“These new figures on severely obese children, who are in the most critical overweight category, are a further worrying wake-up call for urgent joined-up action,” Chairwoman of the LGA Well-Being Board, Izzi Seccombe, stated. In 2016, the government launched a childhood obesity plan, which included a tax on sugary drinks.
A representative from the Department of Health stated that their childhood obesity plan was “comprehensive.” However, it was not the “final word” on obesity and that they have not ruled out any other options yet regarding this new epidemic.