The percentage of obese pre-schoolers has jumped three per cent in a year – reversing a downward trend, according to statistics released from the annual New Zealand Health Survey.

The Ministry of Health today released the key indicators from the 2016/2016 survey which showed that 99,000 or 12.3 per cent of children aged 2 to 14 are obese up from 10.7 per cent in the 2015/16 survey and 8.4 per cent a decade ago.

The biggest increase though was in the number of obese pre-schoolers (aged 2-4) which jumped three per cent to 10.5 per cent.

This result reversed a trend of childhood obesity rates starting to stabilise in previous annual surveys, in particular pre-schooler obesity rates had fallen in the 2015/16 survey to 7.3 per cent which had been the lowest rate since the surveys began ten years ago.  (A child is classified as obese if they have a BMI equivalent to an adult BMI of 30 or more.)  The one positive childhood obesity trend was a stabilising of Pacific childhood obesity rates – while they remained at a high 29.1 per cent this was down on the 29.8 recorded last year.

The statistics are based on face-to-face interviews with adults that were conducted between July 2016 and June 2017. Over 13,000 adults, and the parents or primary caregivers of over 4,000 children took part in the survey which includes weighing and measuring the adults and children to calculate their body mass index (BMI).

Adult obesity results from the 2016-17 survey also showed an increase with 32.2 per cent of adults obese – up on 26.5 per cent in 2006/2007 and slightly up on the 31.6 per cent rate in 2015/16.

The survey showed that while obesity rates continue to rise parents appear not to be concerned about the impact on their children’s health with 98.1 per cent of parents rating their child’s health as good to excellent.  Likewise 88.2 per cent of adults rate their own health as good.

The full statistics can be viewed here.

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