Child obesity 'has peaked'

The 30-year rise in child obesity may have peaked, researchers report. The increase in overweight and obesity among children which has continued without pause since the mid-1970s is now on a downward trajectory, according to latest figures.



The forecast number of overweight girls aged 2 to 11 in 2020 has dropped from 34 per cent to 17 per cent, and the proportion of obese girls from 14 per cent to 10 per cent.

Among boys, the forecast number of overweight is down from 22 per cent to 17 per cent, and for the obese it is down from 20 per cent to 13 per cent.

The pounds are also slipping off teenagers. Among 12 to 19 year olds, the forecast number of obese girls in 2020 is down from 30 per cent to 9 per cent and obese boys are down from 25 per cent to 18 per cent. There are similar falls in overweight teenagers.

The revised forecasts, by researchers from the University of Oxford led by Professor Klim Mcpherson, are based on the annual health survey for 2007, one of the most comprehensive health surveys in the world. The original forecasts, made by the same team, were based on the 2004 health survey and published as part of the Foresight report on obesity in 2007, which called for changes to the environment, to reduce calorie consumption and increase activity to curb expanding waistlines.

Tim Marsh, associate director of the National Heart Forum, and a member of the research team, said the findings were good news. “This is the first indicator of a positive change in the [upward] trend [in child obesity]. It is certainly not going up as much as we said in the Foresight report two years ago. It is positive - how positive only time will tell.”

It was essential to curb overweight and obesity in childhood because, once gained, weight was much harder to lose later on.

Dr Marsh said the study could not answer why obesity was falling but there were a number of factors that could be responsible.

“We think it is a combination of changing attitudes - obesity is now recognised to be a serious health problem - and changes in government policy. A significant amount has happened since 2004.”

Traffic light food labelling to help parents choose healthier foods, the Sure Start scheme to give new parents support and improved breast feeding rates, which reduces the risk of obesity in later life, may all have contributed, he said.

Chance fluctuations in the figures from year to year could account for some, but not all, of the change, he said. “As the change is so great, it is unlikley to be due solely to changes in the data,” he said.

Professor Klim McPherson said that although the figures presented a “more postive picture” of obesity, they were still worrying.

“The prevalence, and current trends, of excess weight are still unacceptably high and these figures should not be taken as an argument for complacency. The Government needs to keep up the work they are doing to tackle obesity.”

Gillian Merron, public health minister, said 1.5 million children and 25 million adults in Britain were overweight or obese.

“Obesity is one of the biggest health challenges we face. The encouraging news that child obesity may be levelling off is thanks to the hard work of families, schools and the NHS across England. But obesity levels are still too high and we need to keep the momentum going.”

Voices
Actor Zac Efron
voicesTopless men? It's as bad as Page 3, says Howard Jacobson
News
peopleOrlando Bloom the pin-up hero is making a fresh start
Arts & Entertainment
tvGrace Dent on TV
Voices
For the Love of God (2007) The diamond-encrusted skull that divided the art world failed to sell for
its $100m asking price. It was eventually bought by a consortium
which included the artist himself.
voicesYou can shove it, Mr Webb – I'll be having fun until the day I die, says Janet Street-Porter
VIDEO
Life & Style
The exterior of a central London Angus Steakhouse
food + drink
Sport
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain drives in the rain during the qualifying session of the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix in Shanghai
sport
Extras
indybestFake it with 10 best self-tanners
Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sportThe city’s fight for justice after Hillsborough is embodied in Steven Gerrard, who's poised to lead his club to a remarkable triumph
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Arts & Entertainment
filmLife for Leslie Mann's can be challenging sometimes
Voices
For music lovers: John Cusack with his vinyl collection in 'High Fidelity'
voices...but don't forget rest of the year
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
Environment
People are buying increasing numbers of plants such as lavender to aid the insects
environment
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Apprentice IT Technician

    £150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

    1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

    £153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

    1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

    £150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

    Sales Associate Apprentice

    £150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

    Day In a Page

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

    Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
    Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

    British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

    The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
    Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

    Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

    Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
    Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
    Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

    Cannes Film Festival

    Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
    The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

    The concept album makes surprise top ten return

    Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
    Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

    Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

    Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
    10 best baking books

    10 best baking books

    Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
    Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

    Jury still out on Pellegrini

    Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

    As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
    Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

    Mad Men returns for a final fling

    The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

    Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit