Almost a quarter of 4 and 5 year olds starting school this year are overweight or even obese, according to new figures. By the time children leave primary school aged 10 to 11, one in three are above a healthy weight, reports The Telegraph.
Slightly more boys than girls are overweight and some experts are concerned that parents and the public now see overweight body shapes as normal.
“These statistics suggest that more needs to be done at a younger age to combat obesity within primary education,” said Tim Straughen, chief exec of the NHS Information Centre. “We need to positively encourage healthy eating and participation in physical activity, to reduce future health implications for these children.”
In another survey, the Scottish Government discovered that parents have an unrealistic idea of their children’s weight, with many believing their overweight children were “just right”, reports the Herald Scotland.
“This inability to see if and when and how a weight problem is developing, is a concern,” said Professor Phil Hanlon, from Glasgow University.
Experts also suggested that parents needed to take more responsibility to help their children stay a healthy weight both before they started school and throughout their childhood.
“It’s parents’ responsibility to make sure that not only are their children eating as well as they can, but also exercising,” said Eleanor Coner, from the Scottish Parent Teacher Council.