More than one million children were weighed and measured for the ‘school measurement programme’.
The results, compiled by the National Obesity Observatory, are a major cause for concern for the government.
The results show that despite recent campaigns, including TV chef Jamie Oliver’s healthy school dinners, there has been very little progress to keep children down to a healthy weight.
President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health Dr Hilary Cass believes more needs to be done to crack down on junk food advertising before the 9pm television watershed.
“In order to get children on the right track early on, we need to be looking not only at the parents’ role in encouraging active lifestyles and providing healthy food for their children, but also how society can support them in doing so,” she said.
Areas to be reviewed include:
- School dinners – are they nutritious and filling?
- Costs – how can we feed our children healthily on a tight budget?
- Pressure – how can we make sure children don’t want junk food?
The government has said it is already taking steps to cut childhood obesity with its Change4Life campaign, which uses social media channels to get the healthy eating message across to young people and parents.
Supermarkets are also being given tougher restrictions on the kinds of products they can sell, while manufacturers are being challenged to cut the amount of fat, sugar and salt they use.
This is all part of the ‘responsibility deal’.
According to public health minister Anna Soubry, we can expect to see more fruit and vegetables added to ready meals over the next few years, while supermarkets plan to expand their fresh produce sections.
Encouraging children to keep active is also a vital part of maintaining a healthy weight and parents are encouraged to limit time spent watching television and playing video games in favour of after school activities, sports and outdoor playtime.
Official figures show that boys are more likely to be overweight or obese than girls, and families with lower incomes are also more prone to obesity.
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