Increase in underweight children recorded in new figures
A number of underweight children in England has risen slightly, new figures suggest.
Some 1.1% of reception-aged children are underweight, up from 0.9% in 2020/21, data from the National Childhood Measurement Programme (NCMP) shows.
And 1.5% of year six children are underweight, compared to 1.2% in 2020/21.
It comes after a study found that more than a quarter of children are on diets, including those of a healthy weight.
These figures should be read together with yesterday's data from the Health Survey for England showing that overweight children really are trying to shift significant amounts of fat. The end-of-year NCMP report should not be dramatically different and this will be good news indeed
The study, involving more than 34,000 youngsters in England, found a rise in the proportion of children as young as eight trying to lose weight.
The research, from the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, found a “significant increase over time” in the proportion of children reporting weight-loss attempts, from 21.4% in 1997/98 to 26.4% in 2015/16.
The new figures from the NCMP also show a decrease in the proportion of obese youngsters.
Obesity prevalence among four and five-year-olds in reception classes decreased from 14.4% in 2020/21 to 10.4% in 2021/22.
And obesity in year six children aged 10 and 11 fell from 25.5% in 2020/21 to 23.5% in 2021/22, according to the interim findings published by NHS Digital.
The proportion of children who were deemed to be overweight, but not obese, also fell between 2020/21 and 2021/22.
Among reception children, it fell from 13.3% to 12.5% and among year six pupils it fell from 15.4% to 14.4%.
Commenting on the latest figures, Tam Fry, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, said: “These figures should be read together with yesterday’s data from the Health Survey for England showing that overweight children really are trying to shift significant amounts of fat.
“The end-of-year NCMP report should not be dramatically different and this will be good news indeed.”
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