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Severe obesity in 10-year-olds highest since records begin, says British health agency

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-07-24 22:18

LONDON - The level of severe obesity in children aged 10 and 11 has reached a record high, the official health body Public Health England (PHE) said Tuesday.

Around one in 25 10 to 11 year olds, more than 22,000 children, are severely obese.

New figures based on an analysis of the National Child Measurement Program show the severe obesity level among children in that age bracket is higher than at any time since records began.

Analysis of the results between 2006 and 2017 have detailed trends in severe obesity for the first time.

The new analysis shows that severe obesity has been on an upward trend over the last 10 years after remaining stable in recent years.

PHE said their findings show stark health inequalities are continuing to widen, with the prevalence of excess weight, obesity, overweight and severe obesity higher in the country's most deprived areas compared to the least deprived.

The study shows this is happening at a faster rate in children aged 10 and 11 than when they started school aged 4 or 5.

The measurement program has captured the height and weight of over one million children in Reception (aged 4 to 5 years) and Year 6 (aged 10 to 11 years) in school each year.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, said: "The rise in severe obesity and widening health inequalities highlight why bold measures are needed to tackle this threat to our children's health. These trends are extremely worrying and have been decades in the making, reversing them will not happen overnight."

A spokesperson for PHE said: "Unhealthy weight in childhood can result in bullying, stigma and low self-esteem. It is also likely to continue into adulthood, increasing the risk of preventable illnesses including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers."

PHE is working with the food industry to cut 20 percent of sugar from everyday products by 2020, and 20 percent of calories by 2024, as part of a campaign to reduce childhood obesity.

The government's Department of Health and Social Care has recently announced its plans to help halve childhood obesity by 2030. Main actions include mandatory calorie labelling on menus; and restrictions on price promotions on foods high in fat, salt or sugar. The proposed measures will go out for consultation later in 2018.

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