Nearly three out of ten five-year-olds in Wales are overweight
According to figures from Public Health Wales, 28 per cent of Reception class children in Wales are overweight or obese.
The findings, taken from the Child Measurement programme that measured the height and weight of 29,400 Reception pupils, show that more children in Wales were overweight or obese in 2011/12 than in England (22%).
The highest prevalence of overweight and obese children in Wales (34%) was in Merthry Tydfil, and the lowest in Monmouthshire where 22% of children have an unhealthy body mass index (BMI).
In contrast, seven out of ten children (71%) aged four to five in Wales had a healthy BMI in 2011/12.
Dr Ciarán Humphreys, consultant in public health for Public Health Wales, said: "This is the first time we have had a clear picture of the how children in Wales are growing and although the headline figures are worrying, this is something that can be reversed.
"As with most health risks, the sooner they are tackled the easier they are to address and the greater the long-term benefits.
"Encouragingly healthy eating and regular exercises at a young age provides children with an excellent start and helps them grow up to be healthy adults."
Dr Ruth Hussey, chief medical officer for Wales, said, "I welcome this first report on the growth of children at school entry across Wales. Having good information is the basis for effective action on healthy child growth and to reduce childhood obesity. This report provides a baseline from which we can monitor our progress as a nation and more locally, into the future.
"We have made some steps forward in Wales, such as the Flying Start early years programme, Change4Life campaign and the Welsh Network of Healthy School Schemes, which has now extended to pre-school settings; as well as working at the UK level on issues such as front-of-pack food labelling. The Welsh Government is committed to support healthy growth and reduce obesity through a range of actions, particularly on the root causes such as poverty."
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