Children from poorer backgrounds are more likely to be obese
According to the plain speaking Public Health Minister Anna Soubry deprived kids are now the fattest.Clearly children from richer backgrounds can be obese- something she herself acknowledged when she said her point was more that the greater propensity for obesity lay among the more deprived communities.
And the statistics seem to back her up – to some extent at least with the latest figures show that children from the most deprived 10% of backgrounds were nearly twice as likely to be obese.
The data from the government’s child measurement programme, which is carried out in primary schools across England, shows that 12.3% of the poorest reception kids were obese, compared to 6.8% from the wealthiest backgrounds.
A similar pattern emerged among year six pupils – the other age group that takes part in the measurement programme – with 24.3% of the most deprived children obese, compared to 13.7% of the least.
Where the waters get a little muddied is with overweight children that are not quite classed as obese.
Again the children from the more deprived backgrounds are the most likely to be overweight, but by a much smaller margin.
In the case of year six pupils the difference is less than one percentage point.
Perhaps the best thing to do is to combine the two groups, overweight and obese.
When you do that you find about four in 10 children from the most deprived backgrounds are carrying excess weight, compared to nearly three in 10 from the richest.
The gap for reception age children is even closer – one in four, compared to just under one in five.
So it seems as Miss Soubry is right.
It is unusual these days to find a minister using such colourful language -and there are some who believe it will harm the drive to tackle obesity.
Prof Alan Maryon-Davis, a former president of the UK Faculty of Public Health, has some sympathy with the suggestion that such comments can stigmatise people.
But he says: “By saying what she did in the way she said it she got attention. People start talking about the issue and that is good. And it must be remembered she also talked about bad food and industry so I prefer to give her credit.”