Figures reveal increasing childhood obesity worry

The latest batch of figures published by the Department of Health have revealed that the prevalence of obesity among children is rising.

In those aged between two and ten obesity has risen from 9.9% in 1995 to 13.7% in 2003, but children aged between eight and ten showed the biggest increase, with a rise from 11.2% to 16.5% over the same period.

Obesity levels in children living in the most deprived areas of areas of Britain were also found to be 5% higher than those living in the least deprived areas, suggesting a link between levels of deprivation and poor nutrition.

Living in households where one or both parents were overweight or obese was also found to increase the risk of obesity in children. The figures revealed that nearly a fifth of children living with overweight or obese parents were also obese, compared to 6.7% of children living in homes where neither parent was overweight.

The National Obesity Forum described the statistics as “very worrying”.

Health Minister Rosie Winterton said that Labour was the only party committed to tackling the problem. Labour has already pledged to raise the standard of school dinners and introduce a series of minimum standards in schools, to reduce fat, sugar and salt content in food, by September 2006. The party also plans to tighten the rules on advertising junk food to children.

Ms Winterton said: “If this continues unchecked, we are storing up huge problems for the future. Our children will pay a heavy price through ill-health, premature death and our National Health Service will end up creaking under the strain of treating the effects of obesity.”


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