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Has Leeds bucked the national trend in childhood obesity?

Fall in obesity in reception age children following implementation of citywide strategy in 2009

There has been a fall in obesity in reception age children following the implementation of a citywide strategy in 2009

Picture: Alamy

While growing levels of obesity in children in the UK is a major public health concern, there has been a significant fall in obesity in reception age children in Leeds.

 In 2009 Leeds implemented a citywide childhood obesity strategy. A core element was a pre-school obesity prevention programme called HENRY, which trained health professionals and early years’ practitioners, as well as delivered sessions for parents, through children’s centres.

Using the National Child Measurement Programme data, 2009 to 2017, this study examined the statistical trends in obesity prevalence in children in Leeds compared with 15 similar cities and England as a whole.

Socio-economic factors

While other cities and England showed no change, the prevalence of obesity in reception children fell from 9.4% to 8.8% in Leeds. The prevalence of obesity in Year 6 children grew in the other cities and England, but remained stable in Leeds overall, although not in areas of socio-economic deprivation where it rose and in affluent areas where it fell. The notable differences in Leeds merit further investigation into the mechanisms for achieving this. 


Rudolf M, Perera R, Swanston D et al (2019) Observational analysis of disparities in obesity in children in the UK: Has Leeds bucked the trend? Pediatriatric Obesity

Vari Drennan is professor of healthcare and policy research at Kingston University and St George’s, University of London

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