1.7 million children started secondary school overweight or obese in last decade

Cancer Research UK

During the last decade, 1,655,000 children have started secondary school overweight or obese in England, according to new calculations* by Cancer Research UK for World Obesity Day today (Tuesday).

“It’s concerning to know that so many children start secondary school – formative years in a child’s life – carrying too much weight." - Alison Cox, director of prevention

This worrying number foretells a future of ill-health which could cost the NHS billions.

We know that obese children are around five times more likely to become obese adults, and carrying too much weight increases the risk of cancer as well as other diseases.

Being overweight or obese is the second biggest preventable cause of cancer in the UK after smoking and contributes to around 18,100 cases of cancer every year. It is linked to 13 types of cancer including bowel, breast, and pancreatic.

Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK’s director of prevention, said: “It’s concerning to know that so many children start secondary school – formative years in a child’s life – carrying too much weight.

“We must give children the best chance for a healthy future. Measures like the sugary drinks tax can make a difference and the Government must press ahead with this vital measure.”

“But there is no silver bullet and more action is needed. The Government has already recognised the influence of junk food marketing on children’s health by banning junk food advertising during children’s programmes - it’s time to close the loop hole during family viewing time.”

Visit cruk.org/ChildhoodObesityStrategy to take action. 

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact the Cancer Research UK press office on +44 203 469 8300 or, out-of-hours, the duty press officer on +44 7050 264 059.

Notes to Editor

* Around 1,655,000 - Total number of children in England in year 6 who are overweight or obese by body mass index (BMI) between 2006/07 and 2014/15.

Calculated by the Statistical Information Team at Cancer Research UK, 2016. The proportion of overweight or obese children in year 6 was applied to the estimated Year 6 population in England. The Year 6 population was estimated by applying the proportional participation to the number of children surveyed each year. All data is from the National Child Measurement Programme.