Severe obesity four times more likely in poor primary schools

Figures released today from the National Child Measurement Programme show that children in primary schools in England’s poorest areas are four times more likely to be severely obese than those in the wealthiest areas. 

Overall, the proportion of severely obese Year 6 pupils has risen from 3.6% in 2009-10 to 4.2% in 2017-18. Action needs to be urgently taken to combat this rising issue.

Evidence points towards Food for Life's potential to contribute to helping 'close the gap' for disadvantaged children in terms of their health and academic attainment and pupils in Food for Life schools eat around a third more fruit and vegetables than pupils in comparison schools, and significantly more fruit and vegetables at home.

Rob Percival, Senior Policy Officer at Food for Life, said:

“Chapter two of the Obesity Plan set the target of both halving childhood obesity rates by 2030 and of significantly reducing health inequalities among children. These two ambitions must go hand-in-hand. The Government’s forthcoming food strategy, which Michael Gove has been promising for several months, must address the question of dietary inequalities. It’s unacceptable the many families find it difficult to access or afford fresh and healthy foods, and it’s unacceptable that such gross inequalities are evident at such a young age. Among other measures, the food strategy should ensure that food is properly funded in early years settings, including in those settings struggling to implement the Government’s 30 hours childcare policy. It should ensure that the Healthy Rating Scheme for primary schools, promised in 2016, is launched, and that the scheme incentivises schools to implement a ‘whole school approach’. Alongside other measures, this could help to alleviate these inequalities and support all children to enjoy a healthier diet.”      

Find out more about Food for Life’s school programme.