Quarter of reception class pupils overweight in Gloucestershire
NEARLY a quarter of children start their school life in Gloucestershire overweight or obese – more than the national average.
And by the time they reach Year 6 the figure has risen to almost one in three.
The report about schoolchildren’s weight was compiled by The NHS Information Centre.
In Gloucestershire 5,922 Reception children were surveyed.
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Of them, 876 (14.8 per cent) were found to be overweight and 521 (8.8 per cent) were found to be obese.
A total of 5,615 Year 6 pupils were also surveyed and 769 (13.7 per cent) found to be overweight.
And 1,005 of them (17.9 per cent), were found to be obese.
In England more than a million children were surveyed and 22.6 per cent of Reception children found to be overweight or obese and 33.9 per cent Year 6 children.
Adults with a BMI of between 25 and 29 are considered to be overweight and a BMI of 30 or above is considered to be obese.
As children grow at different rates their BMIs were compared with the average of his or her age and sex.
A child was considered to be overweight if they were found to be between the 85th and 94th centile and obese if they were found to be equal to or above the 95th centile.
Cheltenham-based nutritionist Marianne Andrews said: “That’s quite frightening.
“I think it has a lot to do with food labels being confusing these days.
“Even as a nutritionist I go into a shop and find them confusing.
“And people rely so much on processed foods which are higher in fat and salt.
“Even things like cereals are billed as healthy but are not.
“Advertising probably plays a big part in that.”
The figures come as a report shows that many less well off families are buying 22 per cent less fruit and vegetables than before the recession. The Government’s annual Family Food survey said only those in the top fifth income bracket are estimated to be eating the recommended five a day.
Marianne said the old adage that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” still rings true and can help keep your weight stable.
She recommended parents give their children porridge or scrambled eggs in the mornings.
Stuart Langworthy, director of business and enterprise at Millbrook Academy, Brockworth, is also chairman of Abbeymead Rovers.
He said: “I’m surprised by the figures.
“But then kids don’t get as much exercise these days because of the computer and Xbox generation.
“As a football club we encourage young people of all shapes and sizes to come along and enjoy themselves.”