Last updated 9 January 2018 - see all updates
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1. Main facts and figures
in 2015/16, an estimated 22.1% of children aged 4 to 5 and 34.2% of children aged 10 to 11 in England were overweight
for children aged 4 to 5, this was an increase from 21.9% in 2014/15
for children aged 10 to 11, this was an increase from 33.2% in 2014/15
in both the 4 to 5 and the 10 to 11 age groups, Black African children were the most likely to be overweight in 2015/16, with almost a third (31.2%) of the younger group and nearly half (45.9%) of the older group overweight
in 2015/16, Black African children aged 4 to 5 were more than twice as likely to be overweight compared with Indian children, of whom 14.5% were overweight
among children aged 10 to 11, children from the Mixed White and Asian group were least likely to be overweight (30.1%) in 2015/16, followed by Chinese children (30.2%)
The ethnic categories used in this data
The 16 categories used in this data are those listed in the 2001 census. The categories are broadly the same as those used in the 2011 census, with the following exceptions:
- the 2001 census categorised Chinese people within 'Other ethnic group'
- the 2001 census did not list Gypsy and Irish Travellers or Arab people
The 2001 categories are therefore as follows:
- English/ Welsh/ Scottish/ Northern Irish/ British
- Any other White background
Mixed/Multiple ethnic groups:
- White and Black Caribbean
- White and Black African
- White and Asian
- Any other Mixed/Multiple ethnic background
- Any other Asian background
- Any other Black/African/Caribbean background
Other ethnic group:
- Any other ethnic group
2. Overweight children by ethnicity
|Ethnicity||2014/15 4 to 5 year olds||2014/15 10 to 11 year olds||2015/16 4 to 5 year olds||2015/16 10 to 11 year olds|
|Mixed White/Black African||28.6||39.6||26.7||40.3|
|Mixed White/Black Caribbean||25.5||39.5||24.9||39.4|
Summary of Overweight children Overweight children by ethnicity Summary
Launched in 2005/06, the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) measures over one million children each year and is a valuable source of data on childhood obesity.
Measurements of height and weight are collected from children in reception (ages 4 to 5) and year 6 (ages 10 to 11), primarily in state-funded mainstream schools in England. This analysis is based only on children in state-funded mainstream schools that participated in the programme.
The NCMP uses a child’s body mass index reference to determine if a child is overweight or obese. For more information on the NCMP and how the programme determines if a child is overweight or obese, see the NCMP website.
Children aren’t required to participate in the programme, but if they don’t want to they need to opt out. In 2015/16 there were 1,170,000 participants, with only 5% of pupils opting out.
The confidence intervals for each ethnic group are available in Download the data.
Based on the NCMP measurements, it’s estimated that 22.1% of children aged 4 to 5 and 34.2% of children aged 10 to 11 were overweight in England in 2015/16.
The NCMP is calculated from the number of schoolchildren aged 4 to 5 and aged 10 to 11 in state-maintained schools, rather than all schoolchildren of those ages in England. This measure makes a reliable estimate of the percentage of children of these ages in England who are overweight, but it’s impossible to be 100% certain of the true percentage.
It’s 95% certain, however, that somewhere between 22.0% and 22.2% of all 4 to 5 year olds were overweight in 2015/16. In statistical terms, this is a 95% confidence interval. This means that if 100 random samples were taken from the total population of school age children in England, then 95 times out of 100 the estimate would fall between the upper and lower confidence interval. But 5 times out of 100 it would fall outside this range.
The smaller the size of the population, the more uncertain the estimate and the wider the confidence interval. For example, fewer children from the Chinese ethnic group are enrolled in state-maintained schools in England than White children, so we can be less certain about the estimate for the smaller group. This greater uncertainty is expressed by a wider confidence interval, for example of between 15.6% and 18.6% for Chinese children aged 4 to 5 in 2015/16.
Statistically significant findings have been determined where the 95% confidence intervals of an ethnic group do not overlap with the England value.
Suppression rules and disclosure control
England totals include all children in state-maintained schools, with a valid height and weight measurement, including those with an unknown residency.
Figures have been rounded to one decimal point.
Further technical information
4. Data sources
Type of data
Type of statistic
Purpose of data source
The National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) measures the height and weight of children in Reception class (aged 4 to 5) and year 6 (aged 10 to 11), to assess overweight and obesity levels in children within primary schools.
Type of data
Type of statistic
Public Health England
Purpose of data source
The National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) measures the height and weight of children in reception class (aged 4 to 5 years) and year 6 (aged 10 to 11 years) to assess overweight and obesity levels in children within primary schools. This data can be used at a national level to support local public health initiatives and inform the local planning and delivery of services for children.
5. Download the data
This file contains the following: ethnicity, year, age group, value, denominator, numerator and confidence intervals