Levels of child obesity in England may stop rising, says report
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Levels of child obesity in England may stop rising, says report

The increase in obesity levels among English children may soon stop, according to a new report.

Data collected by the National Heart Forum, an Equity Channel partner, suggests that the previously rising trend for child obesity in England may at last be levelling out.

Forecasts for child obesity for 2020 predict a decline in the proportion of overweight boys aged 2-11 years from 22% to 17% plus a sharp fall in the proportion of overweight girls from 34% to 17%.

The proportion of obese boys is expected to fall from 20% to 13%, with a similar decline expected for obese girls, from 14% to 10%.

Professor Klim McPherson of Oxford University, and Chair of the National Heart Forum, said that these figures should encourage sustained action to tackle obesity.

“[P]revalence, and current trends, of excess weight are still unacceptably high and these figures should not be taken as an argument for complacency,” he said.

“The Government needs to keep up the work they are doing to tackle obesity,” he added.

The report, ‘Obesity Trends for Children Aged 2-11: Analysis from the Health Survey for England 1993 – 2007″, also anticipates positive trends for young people aged 12-19 years.

The predicted proportion of overweight boys in 2020 decreases from 25% to 18% and of obese boys decreases from 19% to 6%.

The predicted proportion of overweight girls decreases from 35% to 29% and of obese girls decreases from 30% to 9%.

The WHO has said stressed the long-term importance of ensuring social and economic conditions which give everyone the right to a healthy childhood.

“Healthy development during the early years provides the essential building blocks that enable people to lead a flourishing life,” says a WHO report on health inequalities.

The WHO report also stresses that tackling obesity must go beyond encouraging changes to individual lifestyle choices.

“[O]besity is not caused by moral failure on the part of individuals but by the excess availability of high-fat and high-sugar foods,” the report adds.

The National Heart Forum forecasts are based on Health Survey for England (HSE) obesity data between 2000 and 2007, and were compared to previous forecasts based on survey data till 2004.

You can download the full report on child obesity trends from the National Heart Forum website.

The WHO report can be accessed here.

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