Skip to main content
Creating a new NHS England: Health Education England, NHS Digital and NHS England have merged. More about the merger.


Latest child obesity figures released

The latest annual figures on childhood obesity in England have been released by NHS Digital.

Latest child obesity figures released

The latest annual figures on childhood obesity in England have been released by NHS Digital.

The National Child Measurement Programme1, 2019-20 provides data on the heights and weights of children in Reception and Year 6 in England during the 2019-20 school year and provides data on the number of children who are underweight, healthy weight, overweight, obese or severely obese. Breakdowns include gender, deprivation and ethnicity for both age groups.  

At a national level, analysis indicates that these figures are directly comparable to previous years, for all breakdowns.  However, at a local authority level, this is not possible for all cases.

This is because the collection period for schools to measure their children runs from September to August each year.  By 20 March 2020, schools had closed to many children in the UK, in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.  Some local authorities were either in the process of weighing their children for the NCMP or had not yet started. 

This had a significant impact on the volume of data collected across the country2.  At a national level, the data quality analyses indicate that the figures presented in this release are comparable to earlier years, and the population measured is reflective of previous years, though at a lower volume3

For the local authority figures, these have been split into three levels:

  • reliable
  • fit for publication but interpret with caution4, and;
  • unreliable, suppressed.

For this reason, figures cannot be compared between local authorities5, and only the reliable-level figures can be compared with previous years data for that local authority.

For more information on these caveats and how the data may or may not be used, please see data quality tables A-J in the report.


Read the full report

National Child Measurement Programme, England 2019-20 School Year.

Notes to editors

  1. The National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) – overseen by Public Health England and analysed and reported by NHS Digital – usually measures the height and weight of over one million children in England annually and provides robust data on the number of children in reception and year 6 who are underweight, healthy weight, overweight, obese or severely obese
  2. Data is collected primarily in mainstream state-maintained schools in England. Any data collected from independent or special schools are excluded from this analysis.

The below table sets out the volumes of data collected this year and last year:


Number measured

Percentage decrease

School year

















Year 6














  1. A range of new data quality analyses have been introduced to the report this year, to assess the impact of a partial collection year on the NCMP dataset in 2019/20 and are available in Tables A to J in the Data Tables. Detailed analyses have been released at national and LA level providing information on change in weight category prevalence between 2018/19 and 2019/20 and whether these changes are statistically significant. New school cohort analyses have been included that assess whether there are differences in the dataset due to the subset of schools measured in 2019/20 being different to those schools that were only measured in either 2018/19 or 2019/20. Analyses ensuring that at a national level the proportion of children measured in 2018/19 and 2019/20 was similar by Index of Deprivation Decile and Ethnic categories. Further information is provided in the Data Quality sections of this report.
  2. For LAs in the middle category, (fit for publication but interpret with caution), users are advised to refer to the detailed data quality tables included in the report to assess the completeness of the data for their purposes.
  3. Due to the variable data completeness of the LA data, it is not advised to compare data between LAs, for example to highlight the LAs with the highest or lowest obesity prevalence, as this is likely to highlight differences in data completeness rather than genuine inter-region differences.

NHS Digital is the national information and technology partner of the health and care system.  Our team of information analysis, technology and project management experts create, deliver and manage the crucial digital systems, services, products and standards upon which health and care professionals depend.  During the 2019-20 financial year, NHS Digital published 285 statistical reports. Our vision is to harness the power of information and technology to make health and care better.


For media enquiries please contact [email protected] or telephone 0300 30 33 888. Follow us on Twitter: @NHSDigital


Last edited: 27 October 2020 10:25 am