A Weighty Subject

A Weighty Subject

It’s been busy summer at Emu HQ and we have lots of exciting things in the pipeline. We’ve also hatched a new Emu so a big welcome to Jake Browning who is a whizz at all things web development! He joined us earlier in the summer and will be posting a blog soon where he will introduce himself properly - so watch this space.

It has been a while since we last posted a blog so we thought we would quickly talk about a dataset that caught our eye last week during half-term. Public Health England have recently updated their dataset on child obesity. This shows the prevalence of excess weight and obesity, at small area levels, based on the New National Child Measurement Programme. It looks at children in reception (4-5 years old) and year 6 (10-11 years old) and the results use a rolling three-year combination of the data, based on the home location of the child, to show trends at a granular level from 2008/9 to 2015/16.

The data is fascinating and terrifying. It really highlights how much of a widespread issue childhood obesity is. You can view the data for yourself in this interactive Story Map, but checkout some of the highlights below.

Childhood Obesity Story Map

The most recent data (2013/14 to 2015/16) shows that in England over 22% of children in reception are overweight and 9.3% are obese. For children in year 6 these values are even higher with a shocking 33.6% overweight and 19.3% obese. That means overall almost 1 in 5 10/11 year olds are obese! There is large spatial variation in obesity levels with the highest levels generally being found in cities and more deprived areas. Southwark is the worst affected Local Authority in the country with almost 42% of year 6 children being overweight and 27% being obese. At an even more granular level, the worst affected MSOA in terms of obesity is in Southampton, where 38.8% of year 6 children are obese. There are 6 MSOAs in England where over 50% of year 6 children are overweight and 17 MSOAs where over 33% are obese. Lets just think about that for a second….. 1 in 2 children in the worst affected areas are overweight and over 1 in 3 are obese. That’s a colossal amount and surely going to have some knock on effects down the line to public health services.

Figure 1. Percentage of overweight and obese children in year 6 2013/14 – 2015/16

As mentioned the data has been presented in a Story Map, which you can see here, to make it easy to explore and interpret. Other data sets have also been included to see if they have any correlation with obesity levels. The OS GreenSpaces dataset shows the location of green spaces such as public parks, outdoor pitches and play areas and has been explored to see if the amount of nearby green space has any influence on obesity levels. Gross Disposable Household Income and Average Yearly Income datasets have been used to understand if there is a relationship between income and obesity levels.

I wont talk about the data any more here as its easier if you just view it yourself. The story map is fully interactive so all the maps can be panned and zoomed and features can be clicked on to see more details.