This new data highlights the need for a relentless drive on improving children’s health. In particular we need an intense focus on closing the gap between the most and least deprived to ensure every single child has an equal chance to grow up healthy. Childhood obesity rates are twice as high in the most deprived communities compared to the least, highlighting that addressing obesity is key to tackling health inequalities.

There are several aspects of the pandemic that are likely to have contributed to this increase child obesity levels. But is very clear from data showing increases in sales of confectionery, biscuits and fast food that junk food companies used the opportunity to keep their unhealthy products centre-stage in children’s minds. We need to break the junk food cycle to improve children’s health. New restrictions on junk food marketing, such as the 9pm watershed in advertising, is a positive move. Next we need the Government to take stronger action to improve everyday food and drink with a levy on food companies to incentivise them to improve.”

Full data report available here: https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/national-child-measurement-programme/2020-21-school-year 

Read our blog from earlier this year about the impact of the pandemic on child health: http://obesityhealthalliance.org.uk/2021/02/26/lockdown-and-the-impact-on-child-obesity/