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23% of four year olds 'overweight'

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The number of children aged four to five who are overweight or obese has reached 23%, data has revealed.

For children in the last year of primary school (aged 10 to 11), the figure increases to one in three (33%).

According to the report by the NHS Information Centre, the rates of childhood obesity have hardly changed in the last few years.

For boys in the younger reception year, 14% are overweight, while a further 11% are obese. For girls of the same age, 13% are overweight and 9% are obese.

Around 15% of boys and girls who are in the final year of primary school are overweight, while 20% of boys are obese alongside 17% of girls.

The data is taken from more than a million children (91% of eligible pupils), as part of the government’s national child measurement programme.

The scheme has been criticised for being voluntary, with research suggesting that some overweight and obese children “opt out” of being weighed and measured, potentially skewing the results.

The report found that children in urban towns and cities were much more likely to be overweight than those living in rural areas.

Tim Straughan, chief executive of the NHS Information Centre, said: “These statistics suggest that more needs to be done at a younger age to combat obesity within primary education and positively encourage healthy eating and participation in physical activity, to reduce future health implications for these children.”

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