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Alarming figures show a quarter of year 6 pupils obese

Obesity rates

Thousands of children are facing “serious” and even “devastating” consequences as a result of weight gain during the pandemic, experts warn.

The National Childhood Measurement Programme, which measures obesity prevalence among pupils in reception class and year 6, found that almost one in seven children are obese when they begin primary school in England and by the time they are aged 10 or 11 this rises to more than a quarter.

Among reception-aged children the rates of obesity rose from 9.9% in 2019-20 to 14.4% in 2020-21 and in year 6 pupils the rate is up from 21% in 2019-20 to 25.5% in 2020-21.

Laura Chan, Soil Association policy officer commented:

The food system is rigged against us, it intensifies inequalities and damages our health and the health of future generations. It’s not about individual choice, the whole system is broken and it doesn’t just need fixing, it needs transforming. The National Food Strategy lays out a plan to overhaul the food system so it can promote health alongside protecting the planet. The government needs to put it into action.

The 2 million meals a day served by Food for Life cooks and caterers prove that healthy eating can be made easy. These meals all meet the School Food Standards serving up healthy and nutritious meals full of fresh ingredients that support health and learning. The NFS recommends all schools should work with accreditation schemes such as Food for Life to improve school food and food education.

Our latest Food for Life Served Here Impact Report includes key insights about how our accreditation has led to 2.6 billion nutritious meals being served in the UK since 2009.

You can read the National Child Measurement Programme’s finding in full here.