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Pediatr Obes. 2019 Apr 25:e12529. doi: 10.1111/ijpo.12529. [Epub ahead of print]

Observational analysis of disparities in obesity in children in the UK: Has Leeds bucked the trend?

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Department of Population Health, Azrieli Faculty of Medicine, Bar Ilan University, Safed, Israel.
Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.
HENRY, Oxfordshire, UK.
Public Health (Children and Families) Adults and Health Directorate, Leeds, UK.



The prevalence of obesity in childhood is of high concern, especially in deprived populations. We explored trends in obesity following the introduction of a citywide strategy focused on preschool children.


Analysis of obesity prevalence using the National Child Measurement Programme 2009 to 2017 for primary-school children in Leeds using 5-year aggregated data for Leeds, comparable cities, and England as a whole.


Prevalence of obesity in Leeds for school entry children fell significantly (9.4% to 8.8%), whilst comparable cities (CC) and England as a whole showed no change (comparison of trends: P < 0.001 and P < 0.001). The reduction in Leeds was primarily in the most deprived (11.5% to 10.5%; trend comparison CC: P < 0.001, Eng: P < 0.001), but also amongst the affluent (6.8% to 6.0%; trend comparison CC: P = 0.087, Eng: P = 0.012). Prevalence in older children in Leeds was unchanged whilst it increased for comparable cities and England (trend comparison CC: P < 0.001, Eng: P < 0.001). In the deprived, obesity increased: Leeds by 1.4%; CC 1.3%, England 1% (trend comparison Eng: P = 0.004). In the affluent, obesity prevalence reduced more in Leeds than elsewhere: 2% in Leeds, 0.8% in CC, and 0.7% in England (trend comparison CC: P < 0.001, Eng: P ≤ 0.001).


There has been a notable decrease in the prevalence of obesity especially amongst the most disadvantaged children at entry to primary school in Leeds. How this was achieved merits in-depth consideration.


childhood obesity; health disparities; health inequalities; national child measurement programme; obesity prevalence


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