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Publication, Part of

Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet, England, 2020

Official statistics
Publication Date:
Geographic Coverage:
England
Geographical Granularity:
Country, Clinical Commissioning Groups, Local Authorities
Date Range:
01 Apr 2018 to 31 Dec 2019

Part 4: Childhood overweight and obesity

The main source for this part is the National Child Measurement Programme for England (NCMP) which includes nearly all children in reception year (aged 4-5) and year 6 (aged 10-11). 95% of eligible children were measured in 2018/19.

Health Survey for England (HSE) also collects data on childhood obesity; covering all children aged 2-15, although as a sample it has much lower coverage than NCMP and therefore the estimates are less precise.

NCMP and HSE collect height and weight measurements to calculate BMI for each child. BMI (adjusted for age and sex) is recommended as a practical estimate of overweight and obesity in children as it takes into account different growth patterns in boys and girls at different ages.

BMI = Person’s weight (kg) / Person’s height (in metres)2

Each age and sex group needs its own level of classification and this section uses the British 1990 growth reference (UK90) to describe childhood overweight and obesity.

Overweight and obesity prevalence

These are some of the outcomes from the National Child Measurement Programme publication for 2018/19:

  • For reception year, obesity prevalence was 9.7%, from 9.5% in 2017/18.
  • For year 6, obesity prevalence was 20.2%, which was similar to 2017/18.
  • Obesity prevalence was higher for boys than girls in both age groups.
  • For children living in the most deprived areas obesity prevalence was more than double that of those living in the least deprived areas, for both reception and year 6.

For the full published analysis, follow the link below:

National Child Measurement Programme, England, 2018/19

Parents of overweight and obese children

Children’s BMI status by mother and father's BMI status

Based on data from 2017 and 2018 combined, children’s overweight and obesity was associated with that of their parents.

26% of children of obese mothers were also obese, compared with 16% of children whose mothers were overweight but not obese, and 7% of children whose mothers were neither overweight nor obese.

Children of obese mothers were less likely to be a healthy weight (58%) than children whose mothers were overweight but not obese (69%) or those whose mothers were neither overweight nor obese (83%).

The pattern was similar for both boys and girls.

Chart showing child BMI by mothers BMI status

Similarly, 22% of children of obese fathers were themselves obese, compared with 14% of children whose fathers were overweight but not obese, and 9% of children whose fathers were neither overweight nor obese.

61% of children of obese fathers were a healthy weight, compared to 74% of children whose fathers were overweight but not obese. 81% of children were a healthy weight whose fathers were neither overweight nor obese.

Chart showing child BMI by fathers BMI status

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For more data/information on this section: 

Adult and child overweight and obesity report: Health Survey for England, 2018

Last edited: 23 April 2020 9:10 am