Child obesity hits record highs during Covid, NHS data shows

Child obesity rates in England rose to record levels during the pandemic, official figures announced today.

One in seven teenagers will be obese when they start reception now, compared to one in ten before the Covid outbreak.

By the 6th year, the proportion of people who are too fat increases to one in four, compared to one in five in 2019.

The NHS Digital data also shows that children from the poorest areas are twice as likely to be obese as children from the least deprived areas.

Obesity campaign groups called the numbers “alarming” and warned that bans and school closings have taken a huge toll on youth physical health and greater health inequalities.

More than 2.5 million children in England are either overweight or obese and experts fear they are on the way to becoming the fattest generation in history.

The numbers come as the head of the NHS in England warned yesterday that the pandemic had “cast a harsh light” on obesity among young people.

She announced that thousands of severely obese children are being sent to the NHS “fat camps” as part of a pilot program to combat the crisis. In the drastic measure, 15 specialist clinics will treat fat children from the age of two.

One in seven teenagers will be obese by the time they start elementary school, compared to one in ten before the Covid outbreak. By the age of 6, the proportion of overweight children rises to one in four, compared to one in five in 2019. The graph above shows the proportion of children who are considered to be either overweight or obese

Today’s numbers show that in the 2020/21 school year, a record 14.4 percent of admission-age children were obese.

That was 9.9 percent in 2019/20 and the largest increase since records began in 2006/7.

Up to a fifth of people living in the most deprived areas of England are obese, compared to just 8 percent in the least deprived areas.

A small but growing proportion of four- and five-year-olds are pathologically obese, putting them at risk of fatal complications such as strokes, heart attacks, and diabetes.

Fat Camp: Thousands of overweight children to be sent to NHS clinics as part of a pilot program to help tackle the obesity crisis

Thousands of very obese children are being sent to new “fat camps” operated by the NHS, announced yesterday.

Fifteen specialist clinics have been set up across England as a drastic measure to combat the rise in obesity.

They will treat children between the ages of two and 18 who are severely overweight and at risk of fatal complications such as heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes.

About 1,000 children per year are referred to the clinics as part of a pilot program for which an annual funding of £ 6 million is planned – about £ 6,000 per child.

Adolescents are offered therapy to pinpoint the cause of their weight gain and group sessions with psychologists, nutritionists, social workers and pediatricians are offered.

In total, more than 2.5 million children in England are too fat and one in five children is obese by the time they leave elementary school. Research suggests that today’s teens are well on the way to becoming the fattest generation in history.

NHS chiefs hope the new clinics will save money in the long run by preventing long-term health problems that require more invasive and expensive procedures. Obesity-related diseases are already costing the NHS a staggering £ 6 billion a year.

Health chiefs say the pandemic made the problem worse as thousands of teenagers piled pounds from being stuck at home during the lockdown.

Almost one in twenty (4.7 percent) is now severely overweight, compared to 2.5 percent before Covid.

The obesity prevalence among 6th grade students rose from 21 percent in 2019/20 to 25.5 percent in 2020/21.

Up to a third of 10-11 year olds in the poorest parts of England were obese, compared to only 14.3 percent in the wealthiest areas.

About 6.3 percent of students in their final year of primary school were morbidly obese in their final year, compared to 4.7 percent before the pandemic.

The Obesity Health Alliance said there were “several aspects of the pandemic” that had contributed to the surge.

Like adults, children were subject to the government’s initial draconian stay-at-home order and were only allowed outside to exercise once a day.

Many were confined to their homes due to isolation protocols in schools even after lockdowns ended.

Experts have said that during the pandemic, many children turned to comfort foods to help deal with boredom, isolation and anxiety.

Caroline Cerny of the Obesity Health Alliance said, “These new data underscore the need for unremitting efforts to improve the health of children.

“In particular, we need to focus intensely on bridging the gap between the most deprived and the least deprived to ensure that every single child has an equal chance of growing up healthy.

“Child obesity rates are twice as high in the most deprived communities as they are in the least, which shows that tackling obesity is key to tackling health inequalities.

“There are several aspects of the pandemic that likely contributed to this rise in childhood obesity.”

Dr. Max Davie, Health Improvement Officer at the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health, said, “This sharp rise in childhood obesity is alarming.

“While the lockdown may have been a key factor, we cannot assume that this year’s results are an error as there may be other factors, including mental health issues, that may take time to resolve.

“One factor that we need to focus on is poverty. Every year we see the gap between the most disadvantaged and the least disadvantaged children widen.

Jemma Fletcher, 37, received the letter from Sheffield Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust after her baby girl Lily was weighed by visiting nurses at school

Lily’s mother, Jemma Fletcher, 37, said: “There’s nothing in her, she’s tiny. My family all said, “Don’t worry, it’s just a letter, we all know she’s not overweight.”

Child obesity rose to record highs in England during the pandemic. One in seven people is obese by the time they start elementary school, compared to one in 10 before Covid. In the 6th grade, the proportion of people who are too fat increases to one in four

Mom slams the NHS after receiving a letter stating that her five-year-old is overweight even though he only weighs two pounds

A mother has criticized health bosses after receiving a letter describing her five-year-old daughter as overweight.

Jemma Fletcher, 37, received a letter from the Sheffield Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust after tests on her daughter Lily showed she was above the recommended weight for her age.

The little girl had been weighed and measured by visiting nurses at school.

Ms. Fletcher of Sheffield, South Yorkshire said: “I was absolutely disgusted and shocked to read that Lily was classified as overweight. It’s just annoying and shocking.

“There’s nothing in it, it’s tiny. My family all said, “Don’t worry, it’s just a letter, we all know she’s not overweight”.

“I know she is not overweight, but if you are a parent who is having problems you could take it and put your child on a diet.

“As a mother, you have enough to worry about.

“What if I were someone who doesn’t have this support and who suffers from fear and worries for their children anyway? She could easily have pushed this letter over the edge.

“It’s hard enough anyway, there’s enough pressure on you to look a certain way, it could really give a kid a complex at a young age.”

The tests were conducted in schools in October as part of a National Child Measurement Program (NCMP) by the NHS.

“Obesity is increasingly a disease of poverty in the UK and any attempt to address it must therefore focus on these groups and the causes of their increased vulnerability.”

Boys had a higher prevalence of obesity than girls in both age groups.

The proportion of children with a healthy weight also fell between 2020/21 and 2019/20.

Among the 6th grade students, 58 percent were considered a healthy weight, compared to 63 percent the year before.

Among the children admitted, seven out of ten children were classified as having a healthy weight, compared to 76 percent in the previous year.

The proportion of all children who were either overweight or obese was 28 percent in admission and 41 percent in 6th grade.

In the meantime, around 1,000 children who fall into the fattest child category are expected to be treated at one of 15 new fat camps in England each year.

The radical pilot has been allocated a budget of £ 6 million annually – around £ 6,000 per child.

Adolescents are offered therapy to pinpoint the cause of their weight gain and group sessions with psychologists, nutritionists, social workers and pediatricians are offered.

NHS chiefs hope the new clinics will save money in the long run by preventing long-term health problems that require more invasive and expensive procedures.

Obesity-related diseases are already costing the NHS a staggering £ 6 billion a year.

Health chiefs say the pandemic made the problem worse as thousands of teenagers piled pounds from being stuck at home during the lockdown.

They have been set up across England, including at Southampton University Hospital, Manchester Children’s Hospital, Leeds Teaching Hospital and Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.

The 15 new services are based on an existing clinic at the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children which has served thousands of children across the South West since its launch in 2018.

Last year Boris Johnson unveiled the government’s anti-obesity strategy. He is said to have developed a passion for the subject after his severe Covid attack.

The government has announced a new crackdown on junk food advertisements to reduce obesity in children. Food and confectionery giants are prohibited from promoting products that are high in fat, sugar and salt online and on television between 5:30 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.

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