Childhood Obesity

Key findings (Published December 2018)

  • Obesity is a complex issue. The solutions are also likely to be complex and involve multiple partners and components

  • Obesity is strongly associated with deprivation; obesity is more prevalent in areas of high deprivation

  • Prevention is the most viable approach to tackling obesity because once established, it is a notoriously difficult condition to reverse

  • Obese children are highly likely to become obese adults

  • Obesity is associated with a wide range of negative emotional and physical consequences and not only affects individuals, obesity also has wider societal effects

  • Obesity rates almost double in Wirral school children between reception and year 6 (this is also true nationally and regionally) from 10.8% of children, to 20.6% of children

  • This means that at age 4/5, one in ten Wirral children are obese. By the age of 10/11, one in five are obese

  • The prevalence of unhealthy weight in both reception and year 6 aged children is (despite some fluctuation) increasing over time

  • Of the 5 ‘clusters’ of Wirral schools, Birkenhead South has the highest prevalence of obesity (25% or one in four of year 6 children and 13% or one in eight of reception aged children)

  • Birkenhead North and Wallasey Clusters were also above the Wirral averages for the proportion of obese children. Bebington and Deeside were below the Wirral average

  • Those schools with obesity prevalence above the Wirral average would be the most appropriate locations for interventions aimed at promoting healthy weight

  • Special schools (because their pupil roll contains children with physical and/or learning disability) are nationally acknowledged as having large proportions of obesity and overweight. Wirral follows this national trend

  • Wirral mirrors national trends for higher levels of obesity in areas of high deprivation (in both adults and children)

  • Broadly speaking, obesity prevalence is decreasing or stable in the most affluent children, but continuing to increase in the most deprived children

  • In year 6 children, the prevalence of obesity in the most deprived quintile (20%) of the population is almost double that in the least deprived (or most affluent) quintile

  • Trend data shows that the inequalities in obesity prevalence in Wirral are increasing

  • Boys in Wirral had higher rates of unhealthy weight than girls in both reception and year 6

  • Boys in year 6 have consistently been more likely to be an unhealthy weight compared to girls in year 6 (with the exception in 2016/17 when girls overtook boys briefly) since the NCMP program began in 2006/07

  • Boys in reception have also mostly been more likely than girls to be an unhealthy weight (except in 2012/13 and 2016/17 when girls had higher rates)

  • Local data mirrors national trends which shows that Black/Black British children are the most likely to be an unhealthy weight at both reception and year 6

  • Asian children were the least likely to be obese in reception. Mixed Race children were least likely to be obese in year 6

  • Promoting healthy weight in children, young people and families should be the priority for Wirral Partners

  • For Wirral a collaborative, whole systems approach to preventing obesity, is likely to be more effective when promoting healthy weight in children, young people and families rather than single interventions on their own

  • Evidence of what works in preventing obesity in the crucial early 0-2 years of age period is currently lacking thus limiting properly understood interventions.

  • There appears to be a trend for girls becoming more likely to be an unhealthy weight over time, while unhealthy weight in boys appears to be stabilising or reducing slightly. If the trend continues, girls may overtake boys with higher rates of overweight in both reception and year 6

Childhood Obesity JSNA (December 2018)

Local Information

Also review content on

Further Information

  • Families and healthy weight approaches: qualitative review (September 2020)
    scoping review of the qualitative evidence, exploring the barriers and facilitators to supporting families with children most at risk of developing excess weight.

  • Excess weight and COVID-19 (July 2020)
    This report brings together findings from UK and international studies published during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It offers information about excess weight and its association with COVID-19. The report suggests that being severely overweight puts people at greater risk of hospitalisation, Intensive Care Unit (ICU) admission and death from COVID-19, with risk growing substantially as body mass index (BMI) increases. The current evidence does not suggest that having excess weight increases people’s chances of contracting COVID-19. However, the data does show that obese people are significantly more likely to become seriously ill and be admitted to intensive care with COVID-19 compared to those with a healthy BMI. Policy paper fro DHSC (July 2020)

  • Patterns and trends in adult obesity: national data (February 2020) 
    These PowerPoint slides present important data and information on adult obesity in clear, easy to understand charts and graphics. They have been produced by the Population Health Analysis team in the Health Improvement Directorate and can be used freely with acknowledgement to ‘Public Health England’.

  • National Child Measurement Programme: Wirral Council Profile (Latest)
    The National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) measures the height and weight of over one-million children aged 4-5 and 10-11 years each year in primary schools in England. The NCMP is an excellent source of surveillance data which helps increase understanding of the patterns and trends in underweight, healthy weight, overweight, and obesity among the child population.

  • House of Commons: Briefing Paper on obesity (June 2015)
    This briefing gives statistics on obesity for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with international comparisons. Breakdowns by age, gender, local authority and deprivation are given where possible, and data for both adult and child obesity is covered.

  • Background information related to obesity
    This PHE data and analysis tool provides a range of information related to obesity.

  • Obesity: prevention and lifestyle weight management in children and young people (July 2015)
    This NICE quality standard covers a range of approaches at a population level to prevent children and young people aged under 18 years from becoming overweight or obese, including interventions for lifestyle weight management.