Magazine article Public Finance

Report Finds Childhood Obesity Not as Big as It Looks

Magazine article Public Finance

Report Finds Childhood Obesity Not as Big as It Looks

Article excerpt

Claims of an obesity epidemic among children have been grossly inflated and are not supported by evidence, according to researchers.

A new analysis of obesity levels by the Oxford-based Social Issues Research Centre found that, between 1995 and 2003, body mass index trends increased only very slightly for both boys and girls. The average 15-year-old boy weighed 60.7kg in 2003, compared with 58.8kg in 1995. For 15-year-old girls the figures were 58.9kg and 58.5kg respectively.

The report said the UK standard for assessing childhood obesity overstated the scale of the problem, classifying 15.5% of children as obese. But when the international standard was applied, just 6.75% were defined as obese.

Researchers said government attention should be targeted at older people who are more at risk from health problems related to obesity. Banning the advertising of junk food to children would do little to help overweight people in their 50s and 60s. …

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