More than one in three British teenagers are overweight or obese, a new study has found.
Researchers have found that 20% of 14 year olds in the UK are obese.
And a further 15% were deemed to be overweight.
Leading children’s doctors said the study was further evidence of the “childhood obesity crisis” gripping Britain.
One in five British 14 year olds are obese, new study finds (PA)
The new figures come from research conducted by experts at the Centre for Longitudinal Studies at University College London (UCL).
Researchers from UCL’s Institute of Education examined data from more than 10,000 teenagers who are taking part in the Millennium Cohort Study – a study tracking the lives of thousands of youngsters born at the turn of the century.
They found varying responses from across the UK – 40% of 14 year olds in Northern Ireland were overweight or obese compared to 38% in Wales and 35% in both Scotland and England.
Youngsters whose mothers had a low level of education were more likely to be of excess weight than those whose mothers had a degree.
Meanwhile, the authors also found differences between white and black teenagers – with 48% of young black people classified as having excess weight, compared to 34.5% of white adolescents.
Commenting on the research, Professor Mary Fewtrell, lead on nutrition at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “Data from the Millennium Cohort Study provides further evidence of the scale of the childhood obesity crisis in the UK.
“A range of measures must be considered including restrictions on junk food marketing before the 9pm watershed, statutory school-based health education in all schools, and, in order to determine what effect taxation is having on consumption of sugary drinks, robust evaluation of the soft drinks and sugar reduction programme is needed.”
Professor Emla Fitzsimons, co-author of the study, said: “Children who are overweight or obese face an increased risk of many health problems later in life, including cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
“Overweight and obesity are also associated with psychological problems such as low self-esteem and depression, and with lower educational attainment.”