London: At lease one in four children aged between two and ten is overweight or obese, a UK government report reveals.
These children face a lifetime of weight-related health problems and cost the taxpayer more than £5bn by 2010. They could also die before their parents.
The report from the National Audit Office, the Healthcare Commission and the Audit Commission says slow progress is being made towards delivering on the target cut for lowering obesity, set in July 2004.
Recent figures show that obesity had increased from 9.6 per cent of youngsters in 1995 to 13.7 per cent in 2003. The proportion of children who were overweight or obese rose from 22.7 per cent to 27.7 per cent.
The cost of childhood and adult obesity to the UK health service is around £1billion. There is a further £2.3billion to £2.6billion cost to the economy as a whole – this includes lost productivity. But Mr Bundred said the cost to the economy alone could rise to £3.6billion by 2010, with more than £1billion in costs to the NHS – a bill close to £5billion.
The report’s recommendations include the need for better local guidance on initiatives, such as increasing use of school sports facilities outside school hours.