Figure 13 shows that, nationally, children of Black ethnicity are significantly more likely to be obese than other ethnic groups, while children of White ethnicity have lower rates of obesity on average. When looking at the data for Hackney and the City, obesity prevalence in Black ethnicity Reception Year age children is similar to other minority ethnic groups (but higher than among White children). In Year 6, however, Black children are significantly more likely to be obese than children from all other backgrounds, except Mixed ethnic groups.

However, questions have been raised about the validity of the current method of calculating body mass index (BMI) in children of different ethnic groups and therefore the reliability of these comparisons. As the relationship between BMI and ‘fatness’ varies with age and sex in children, children’s BMI results are generated by comparison to a reference growth chart. The NCMP BMI data are based on the British 1990 (UK90) growth reference, but the cohort measured in 1990 only included White children. 4 5

Figure 13 : Prevalence of obesity by ethnicity (2013/14)

Children of Black ethnicity are significantly more likely to be obese than other ethnic groups.
Source: National Child Measurement Programme

In line with recorded prevalence rates, children of Black ethnicity make up a high proportion (40%) of all referrals to the local obesity treatment service (see Section 3.7), where ethnicity is recorded (Figure 14 ). This is higher than the proportion of Hackney’s 5-19 population who are Black (31%). White Other children made up 23% of referrals to the service in 2014, the majority of whom (75%) were of Turkish or Turkish Cypriot origin. At the other end of the spectrum, only 6% of referrals were White British children, despite making up 27% of the local 5-19 population, which is in line with lower recorded prevalence rates among this group.

Figure 14: Number of referrals to children’s obesity treatment service in Hackney and the City by client’s ethnicity (2014)

Children of Black ethnicity make up 40% of all referrals to the local obesity treatment service .
Source: Homerton University Hospital departmental communication, 2015

In related national survey data, 15 year olds from Asian, Other and Black ethnicities are much less likely than other groups to report that they participate in more than an hour of physical activity each day. Sedentary behaviour (i.e. more than seven hours a day during the week) is much more common in White and Black children of this age. 6

References

  1. “Obesity and ethnicity,” NHS; National Obesity Observatory, 2011.
  2. “BMI and Children,” Public Health England, [Online]. Available: http://www.nepho.org.uk/obesity/child_and_maternal/bmi_children. [Accessed April 2016].
  3. “What About YOUth? survey,” Health and Social Care Information Centre, 2015.
  4. “Obesity and ethnicity,” NHS; National Obesity Observatory, 2011.
  5. “BMI and Children,” Public Health England, [Online]. Available: http://www.nepho.org.uk/obesity/child_and_maternal/bmi_children. [Accessed April 2016].
  6. “What About YOUth? survey,” Health and Social Care Information Centre, 2015.