According to a major long-term study, one in five children born in the UK at the beginning of the new century were obese by the age of 11.
Experts say that the level of education by parents could be partly to blame, as they identify a “clear link” between the two.
Is this something that concerns you?
The figures from the fifth Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) of more than 13,000 children, found 25 per cent of boys and girls whose parents had no educational qualifications were obese.
In families where at least one parent has a degree the figure was lower at 15 per cent.
Dr Roxanne Connelly, who analysed the data, said: “One of the key issues we now need to focus on is why there was such a sharp increase in overweight and obesity among the MCS children between age seven and 11”.
She added: “The number who were either overweight or obese rose from 25 per cent at the age of seven to 35 per cent at age 11”.
Obesity can lead to many health problems.
Young children face an increased risk in developing type 2 diabetes and asthma.
There is also a chance that those who are overweight could be associated with psychological problems such as depression and low self-esteem.
The study collected from boys, girls and their families from the ages of nine months to 11, analysed their health and schooling as well as their parents education and employment.
Figures showed that the prevalence of overweight and obesity varied significantly by country in the UK.
Forty per cent of 11-year-olds in Wales and Northern Ireland were overweight or obese compared to 35 per cent in England and 33 per cent in Scotland.
Academics behind the study warn that the issue is a whole family problem.
It is important to generally watch the health and weight of your children.
If obesity is a concern for you as a parent, there are things you can work on together as a family, such as exercise and healthy cooking and eating.
Here are some tips to help get you started:
- Avoid eating or letting your children eat at night
- Serve up smaller portions
- Teach your children to chew their food (remember children copy what you do)
- Stick to the 5 a day rule, a mixture of fruit and vegetables