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Publication, Part of

National Child Measurement Programme, England 2020/21 School Year

Official statistics, National statistics

National Statistics

Current Chapter

Part 1: Age, time series and sex


Text added to Introduction section

Text has been added to the Introduction section to make information in the Methodology and Data Quality section and table A2 more accessible. This clarifies that many Local Authorities measured in additional schools and data on 299,000 pupils was submitted and used.

16 November 2021 18:00 PM

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Part 1: Age, time series and sex

Data quality work was undertaken to ascertain that at national level, the population measured in 2020/21 is similar to that in previous years and though the volumes of data are lower, the outputs are consistent with previous NCMP years. See the Methodology and Data Quality section for more information.

Included in this section is information on the BMI classification at national level by school year, age, sex and the relevant time series. At national level, analyses indicates that the findings in this section are broadly comparable to previous NCMP years.


Age

In 2020/21, NCMP survey estimates indicate that 14.4% of reception children were obese (including severely obese), 13.3% were overweight but not obese, and the majority of children 71.3% were a healthy weight.  As explained in the introduction, survey estimates are subject to a margin of error. It is likely that the prevalence of obesity is between 14.2% and 14.6%. 

For year 6 children, estimates indicate that 25.5% were obese, 15.4% were overweight but not obese, and 57.8% were a healthy weight. Obesity prevalence is likely to be between 25.3% and 25.8% for year 6 children.

As shown in the charts below, year 6 prevalence was higher than reception in all categories except for healthy weight.


Time series

The prevalence of obesity in reception had been relatively stable since 2006/07 but has seen a 4.6 percentage point increase from 9.9% in 2019/20 to 14.4% in 2020/21. As explained in the introduction, survey estimates are subject to a margin of error and it is likely that the increase in the prevalence of obesity in reception since 2019/20 is between 4.4 and 4.8 percentage points.


 

For year 6, the prevalence of obesity was increasing slowly from 19.0% in 2010/11 to 21.0% in 2019/20 and then increased by 4.5 percentage points to 25.5% in 2020/21. It is likely that the increase in the prevalence of obesity in year 6 since 2019/20 is between 4.2 and 4.8 percentage points.


Severe obesity prevalence increased for reception and year 6 over the same time periods.

As mentioned previously, these figures for 2020/21 are broadly comparable to previous years although some caution is advised about the exact size of the increase because 2020/21 is an incomplete year of data collection. However, it does appear to be clear that there has been an increase in obesity prevalence in 2020/21.

More data is needed to know whether this is a longer term increase in childhood obesity prevalence. The picture will become clearer when data for 2021/22 and future years is available as that will cover the whole academic year and will represent periods when schooling was less disrupted.

Note: for year 6 comparisons are not possible with the first years of the NCMP (2006/07 to 2008/09) as low participation levels led to underestimation of obesity prevalence. Further information is available in appendices A and C.


Sex

The difference in obesity prevalence between boys and girls was larger in year 6 than reception. In 2020/21, NCMP survey estimates indicate that 14.8% of boys and 14.1% of girls in reception were obese and that 29.2% of boys and 21.7% of girls in year 6 were obese.

Underweight prevalence was higher for boys in reception but higher for girls in year 6.

In reception, 70.5% of boys were healthy weight compared to 72.3% of girls. In year 6, 54.2% of boys were healthy weight compared to 61.7% of girls. 

Note: The proportion of children in the healthy weight category is not shown in the charts below as it would lengthen the scale making the differences and confidence intervals for the other categories harder to see.


Last edited: 16 November 2021 5:42 pm