Now that we’ve explored Childhood Obesity in England, and Childhood Obesity in the East Midlands, it’s time to delve into Part 3: Childhood Obesity in East England.

As with Part 2, this data has been gathered from the National Child Measurement Programme; we’ve filtered through to determine which areas of East England have the highest and lowest prevalence of childhood obesity, and why this may be.

Reception Children in East England

As you can see from the bar chart below, there is only a 1.5% difference between the healthy weights of girls and boys in reception, with girls having the higher percentage. Other than this, the percentages only differ by less than 1%.

12.3% of reception girls are overweight, compared to 12.6% of reception boys. This means there is only a 0.3% difference between boys and girls. However, when looking at the obese and severely obese section, a higher percentage, 9.1%, of boys in reception are obese or severely obese, compared to 12.3% of girls – a 0.3% difference.

East England Reception Children Comparison

As of 2018, 9.9% of all reception children in the East Midlands are obese or severely obese – that’s a whopping 1 in 10 children aged 4-5. This implies that obesity levels drastically increase between reception and Year 6.However, how does this compare to previous years? To give us a clear overview of obesity levels of reception children, we’ve created this bar chart. It compares reception obesity rates in the East Midlands in 2015/2016 to those of reception children in 2017/2018.

In 2015/2016, it was recorded that 78.3% of all reception children were in the healthy weight range. Compared to this, in 2017/2018, a 0.2% increase to 78.5% was recorded. This shows a fractional increase in the percentage of healthy children over the last 3 years. The percentage of overweight children has also decreased by 0.3% from 12.5% to 12.2% since 2015.
However, although the percentage of healthy children has increased, and the amount of overweight children has decreased, the percentage of obese and severely obese has jumped up by 0.1%.

Year 6 Boys and Girls in East England  

As with most of the data we’ve analysed throughout the series so far, the difference between the percentages of healthy weight, overweight, obese and severely obese Year 6 children is stark. Using 2016/17 data from the National Child Measurement Programme, we’ve discovered that approximately 19 boys out of every 100, and 16 girls out of every 100 are obese or severely obese.

Firstly, let’s take a look at the boys.

By Year 6, approximately 10 more boys are obese or severely obese, from 9 to 19. This means that the percentage of obese and severely obese boys in East England more than doubles within a 6 year period. Furthermore, only 66 out of 100 are of healthy weight, which is a decline of over 10% from reception age boys.

Along with the amount of healthy Year 6 boys being significantly lower than reception boys, there’s also an increase of around 2% in the number of overweight Year 6 boys.

When looking at Year 6 girls, one factor we noticed initially, compared to Year 6 boys, is that an average of 2 girls out of every 100 are underweight; 50% more than the number of Year 6 boys. Additionally, compared to 33 in every 100 Year 6 boys, 29 out of every 100 Year 6 girls are overweight, obese, or severely obese. The slightly higher amount of 69 out of 100 Year 6 girls are healthy, compared to 66 out of 100 for Year 6 boys.

East England Year 6 Children Comparison

Data collected by the National Child Measurement Programme for East England in 2018 found that 66.8% of all Year 6 children are of a healthy weight. Shockingly, this means that 43.2% of East Midlands Year 6 pupils underweight, overweight, obese, or severely obese.

However, is this finding an improvement compared to previous years? Or is the percentage of healthy weight Year 6 children in East England decreasing year on year? In order to find out, we’ve compared 2017/2018 data with 2015/2016 data; you can see the results in the bar chart below.

As we can see from the graph above, over the last 3 years, the percentage healthy weight Year 6 children has decreased by 0.3% from 67.1% to 66.8%. Furthermore, the percentage of obese and severely obese Year 6 children has increased slightly from 17.6% to 17.8% – a total of 0.2%. Nonetheless, the amount of overweight children has decreased by 0.2% over the last three years.

This means that, overall, obesity levels within East England Year 6 students stayed relatively the same over the last three years. Although the percentage of overweight pupils has decreased, the total that is underweight and obese or severely obese has fractionally increased.

Best and Worst Areas for Childhood Obesity in East England 

In order to delve deeper into childhood obesity rates in East England, we’ve decided to take a look at area specific data to determine which areas have the highest and lowest obesity rates. Our findings can be seen in the graph below.

Similarly to our findings for the East Midlands, there’s also a stark difference in obesity rates between Reception children and Year 6 children.

In both Year 6 and Reception, Cambridgeshire has the lowest prevalence of childhood obesity in the whole of East England. Just 6.4% of reception children in Cambridgeshire are obese or severely obese. However, although Cambridgeshire has the lowest childhood obesity levels, there is still an 8.8% increase between the percentage of obese and severely obese reception children and Year 6 children.

In contrast, Thurrock has the highest childhood obesity levels in East England with 15.2% of Reception children being obese or severely obese, and 25.4% of Year 6 children being obese or severely obese. That’s a 4.4% increase on Cambridgeshire’s 6.4% for Reception, and a 10.2% increase for Year 6 compared to Cambridgeshire’s 15.2%. Shockingly, this means that, in Thurrock, 10 in 100 Reception children, and 25 in 100 Year 6 children, are obese or severely obese.

Why is this the case?

In Thurrock, 78.6% of residents are economically active; 0.2% higher than the national average in England. Although this is above average, the higher amount of 80.2% of residents in Cambridgeshire are economically active; a 1.6% difference.

Additionally, the average gross weekly wage in Thurrock is £547, whereas the average weekly wage in Cambridgeshire is £594. This means that, per year, people in Cambridgeshire earn £2444 more than people in Thurrock, or £47 per week.

We’ve also discovered that in Thurrock, there are 1.01 takeaways for every 1000 residents, in comparison to Cambridgeshire, in which there are only 0.68 per 1000 residents. Due to the fact takeaways provide more calories for a lower cost than higher priced healthy food; this could explain why parents in poorer areas rely on fast food and takeaways to feed their children.