One in 10 school starters 'obese'

Maldon and Burnham Standard: Data suggests one in 10 children is obese when they start school Data suggests one in 10 children is obese when they start school

One in 10 children is obese when they start school, figures suggest.

In 2011/12, 9.5% of children in Reception class - who are aged just four and five - were classed as clinically obese, according to data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

And a fifth of pupils in Year Six - aged 10 and 11 - were excessively overweight. Overall, three in 10 boys and girls aged two to 15 were classed as either overweight or obese.

The figures show that England's obesity epidemic has got progressively worse over the last two decades. Some 65% of men and 58% of women are overweight or obese.

The HSCIC said between 1993 and 2011 there was a "marked increase" in the proportion of adults that were obese. In 1993, 13% of men and 16% of women were obese and the figures soared to 24% and 26% respectively by 2011.

There has also been a stark rise in obesity-related hospital admissions, the figures suggest. In 2011/12, 11,740 people were admitted to hospitals in England with a primary diagnosis of obesity - triple the number recorded five years earlier. Female admissions were almost three times the number of males.

The north of England recorded the highest admission rate with 56 of every 100,000 people in the region admitted. The East of England recorded the lowest admission rates at 12 per 100,000.

HSCIC chief executive Tim Straughan said: "It won't have escaped the majority of people that obesity is a high-profile issue in this country. This annual report is important in bringing clarity to how this actually affects people, patients and the NHS, from the weighing scales to the operating theatre.

"Based on the Body Mass Index measurement, the proportion of adults estimated to be of a normal weight has dropped substantially since this report's time series began in 1993."

Graham Rowan, chairman of the Obesity Management Association, said: "It is no surprise that today's report indicates that levels of obesity continue to rise, with a startling 65% of men and 58% of women now overweight or obese in England. The obesity epidemic is getting worse by the day and steadily spiralling out of control."

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