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Changes in children’s body mass index

New statistics have been released by Public Health England showing the changes in children’s weight between 2006/07 and 2014/15 based on data from the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP).

Key findings from the report reveal that there are significant downward trends in the prevalence of obesity in Reception but an upward trend in obesity for Year 6 in England.

Now in its ninth year, the NCMP is a key surveillance tool in England which measures the height and weight of a different cohort of children aged 4-5 years (Reception Year) and 10-11 years (Year 6) on an annual basis. This current report uses data collected since the start of the NCMP in 2006/07 to identify key trends in children’s weight (categorised as obese, overweight, excess weight and underweight) over the full period of NCMP measurement.

Key findings

  • In Reception boys and girls there is a significant downward trend in the prevalence of obesity since 2006/07. The downward trend for girls has become steeper compared with the trend last year meaning that the prevalence of obesity is decreasing at a faster rate than before.
  • In Year 6, trend data shows a significant upward trend for obesity, although the rate of increase appears to have slowed in the past year. There is no significant upward or downward trend in overweight children in Year 6.
  • In both Reception and Year 6 the gap between the most deprived and the least deprived is growing for excess weight, obesity and overweight prevalence revealing a widening gap in health inequalities.
  • In Year 6 there are significant upward trends in excess weight and obesity in Bangladeshi, Indian and Pakistani boys and girls. An upward trend is also observed in Black African boys and White British girls.

The NCMP is a key element in the Government's approach to tackling child obesity. The programme provides data for the child excess weight indicators in the Public Health Outcomes Framework. The full report can be accessed from the National Child Measurement Programme.

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