Child obesity cases treated in hospital have more than doubled in two years, figures show 


Child obesity cases treated in NHS hospitals have more than doubled in two years and tripled since 2014

  • Number of babies and toddlers treated in hospital for obesity more than doubled in two years
  • Obesity contributory factor in 1,087 patients aged four and under last year
  • The figure has more than tripled from 336 in 2013/14 to 1,087 in 2019/20

The number of obese babies and toddlers treated in NHS hospitals has more than doubled in two years, figures show.

Doctors say obesity was a contributory factor in 1,087 patients aged four and under last year, with 61 less than a year old.

Conditions included diabetes, asthma, potentially fatal sleep apnoea and stomach reflux, caused by scoffing fatty foods.

The figure has more than tripled from 336 in 2013/14 to 1,087 in 2019/20, the latest year for which figures are available.

The numbers, from NHS Digital, are also double the 531 reported in 2017/18. 

The number of obese babies and toddlers treated in NHS hospitals has more than doubled in two years, figures show (stock image)

Tam Fry, from the National Obesity Forum, said it was ‘horrifying’ that infants ‘scarcely out of the womb’ are so overweight.

He blamed a shortage of health visitors and midwives, early weaning to high-calorie foods and overweight parents.

Separate figures show 601 ‘sumo babies’ were born weighing 5kg (11lbs) or more in the past year. An average baby weighs 7.6lbs.

Studies have shown overweight mums are likely to have bigger babies, with a higher risk of complications and poor health.

Mr Fry said: ‘It’s an absolute disgrace that children so young are being treated in hospital with obesity.

‘It shows a societal failure to get to grips with a problem that risks haunting these children for life.

‘We need a complete revolution that gives youngsters a healthy start, from before they are even conceived.

‘Parents-to-be need to get in shape and adopt a good diet.

‘Figures show half of women in this country are too fat when they get pregnant.

‘They continue to eat a bad diet and pass this onto their baby, putting them at higher risk of being born overweight.

Doctors say obesity was a contributory factor in 1,087 patients aged four and under last year, with 61 less than a year old (stock image)

Doctors say obesity was a contributory factor in 1,087 patients aged four and under last year, with 61 less than a year old (stock image)

‘Unfortunately, a shortage of midwives and health visitors mean many parents are not taught about the importance of healthy living.’ He added: ‘Another problem is weaning babies too early and giving them food that is too high in calories.

‘If they are dumped in a buggy or cot, they are not getting exercise and cannot burn off excess weight.

‘Once they start to pile on the pounds it can be hard to lose and this increases the risk of illness, as these figures show.’ Boris Johnson has vowed to get tough on obesity, with healthy lifestyle lessons for families who struggle to stay trim.

Caroline Cerny, from the Obesity Health Alliance, said: ‘This data is a hugely worrying snapshot into the impact of obesity on children’s health right now.

‘Children are growing up in an environment where budget cuts have lead to a lack of support for new families in the critical early years period and parents are having to grapple with a food system skewed to producing and marketing sugary food.

‘Every child has the right to grow up healthy.

‘Bold and comprehensive action from Government can make this a reality, starting with restrictions on the sugar content and marketing of infant food and pushing ahead with a ban on junk food advertising online.’  

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