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About this tool 

Childhood obesity is a worsening problem which successive governments have attempted to address. 

  • In 2018/19, nearly one tenth of 4 to 5 year olds and more than one fifth of 10 to 11 year olds were obese. 
  • Children who are overweight or obese have a higher chance of being obese adults, increasing the risk that they develop chronic diseases such as some cancers, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. 
  • The government estimates that the cost of obesity to the NHS is £6.1 billion and £27 billion to wider society. 

The childhood obesity data visualisation is an exploratory tool.  It should enable users to identify avenues for local exploration, including potentially similar local areas to explore over time. This interactive data visualisation supports the National Audit Office report on Childhood Obesity which was published in September 2020. 

The data we present shows changes in rates of obesity in children aged 4 to 5 years old and 10 to 11 years old across local authority areas in England alongside analysis of factors such as deprivation, ethnicity and public health spend.  

You can use this tool to explore: 

  • Trends in childhood obesity which show the prevalence of childhood obesity over time, rates of childhood obesity in 2018/19 by ethnic group and rates of childhood obesity in 2018/19 by level of deprivation. Each chart shows the England prevalence for the age 4 to 5 and age 10 to 11 age groups. 
  • Local weight category data which shows local variation in childhood obesity rates and indicates the scale of childhood obesity as a public health concern across different local areas.   
  • Local public health finance data which shows levels of public health spend on childhood obesity by local area. Local authorities have discretion in how they spend their public health grant in their area, including on reducing childhood obesity. They are able to record some activities that could help reduce childhood obesity in categories other than ‘childhood obesity’ (other than the mandated elements of the National Child Measurement Programme which they record separately). As a result, local authorities might be spending more on tackling childhood obesity than is clear from the reported financial information. 

To maintain consistency with our report and given the impact of COVID-19 on schools and the National Child Measurement Programme data collection for the 2019/20 period, the data in this visualisation covers the same period as provided in our report Childhood Obesity. A set of methodology notes is available below which provides information on key aspects of the visualisations.  

Instructions 

There are three dashboards which can be navigated using the icons on the top of the visualisation. 

Dashboard 1: Overview

This dashboard shows an overview of some key findings from the report at the England level.

  • Hovering over a data point on a chart will display the relevant information and values.
  • Selecting an age group will highlight the same age group on the other charts. 

Dashboard 2: Explore local weight category data

This Dashboard displays the weight category data for local authorities within England.

  • Use the side panel to select a year, age group and weight category.
  • Select a local authority from the list on the side panel, or by clicking an area on the map. When a single local authority is selected, its value along with various comparator values will be displayed over time on figure 2 and for the selected year on figure 3. When no local authority is selected the England value will be displayed along with the regional and local authority type values. 
  • Use the ‘Region Zoom’ to zoom into one region on the map (note this does not filter other charts). 
  • Select the ‘Expand comparators’ button to see and expanded view of Figure 3. When a single local authority is selected this view will enable you to expand the various comparator groups to show the local authorities within these group. 

Dashboard 3: Explore local public health finance data

This Dashboard displays Childhood Obesity financial information for local authorities within England.

  • Use the side panel controls to select the metric to display (either Childhood Obesity spend as a percentage of Public Health spend, or Childhood Obesity spend per 1,000 population). 
  • Select a local authority from the list on the side panel, or by clicking an area on the map. When a single Local Authority is selected, its’ value along with various comparator values will be displayed on figure 2. When no local authority is selected the England value will be displayed along with the regional and local authority types values. 
  • Use the ‘Region Zoom’ to zoom into one region on the map (note this does not filter other charts). 
  • When a single local authority has been selected use the ‘Expand comparator groups’ control on the side panel to expand comparator groups to show the local authorities within these comparator groups. 

Data sources 

  • Dashboard 1 Figures 1, 2 and 3: NHS Digital “National Child Measurement Programme, England 2018/19 School Year [NS]” (Published 10 October 2019). 
  • Dashboard 2 Figures 1,2 and 3: Public Health England “National Child Measurement Programme and Child Obesity Profile” (extracted 23 September 2020).
  • Dashboard 3 Figures 1 & 2: MHCLG Revenue Outturn and 2018 ONS mid-year population estimates. 

Methodology notes

The data does not reflect the full population of children in each age group and confidence intervals are needed to determine whether differences observed between local authorities are statistically significant or may be due to random variation in the samples used.  These are not included in the dashboards but should be considered in any subsequent analysis of the data, and comparisons between local authorities. 

The visualisation includes local authority values that can be compared to six comparator groups: 

  • National, Regional and LA type subtotals were calculated by aggregating the local authorities within these groups.
  • The ‘Nearest Neighbour’ group uses the CIPFA nearest neighbours (v18.7 updated 15/08/2019). Each local authority has 15 nearest statistical neighbours, and a subtotal for each local authority based on these nearest statistical neighbours has been calculated for all metrics by aggregating the numerators and denominators of the members. Further details: CIPFA nearest neighbours methodology.
  • The ‘Ethnicity Neighbour’ group uses a similar Euclidian distance approach to the nearest neighbours methodology to find local authorities which have a similar ethnic makeup. This uses data provided via the ONS “Research report on population estimates by characteristics” report, in Table A (Population in the United Kingdom by ethnic group: June 2016). Group sizes of 11 have been created for each local authority to provide balance between similarity and utility. Subtotals for each local authority based on these groups have also been calculated for all metrics by aggregating the numerators and denominators of the members. This comparator has been included, as variation by ethnic group was a key finding of the report.
  • The ‘Deprivation’ group uses the indices of deprivation (IMD 2019). Each LA is grouped with the 5 local authorities immediately above and below them in the deprivation rankings to create groups of 11 authorities using the IMD ranks of average scores.  This metric was chosen to reflect the broad range of aspects of deprivation and further details are available at the MHCLG website.  Group sizes of 11 have been created for each local authority to provide a balance between similarity and utility. Subtotals for each local authority based on these groups have been calculated for all metrics by aggregating the numerators and denominators of the members. If an LA is near the top or bottom of the deprivation list and there are not 5 local authorities either side the nearest local authorities will be used instead, so for example the second most deprived authority would have the most deprived authority and nine less deprived authorities in its deprivation group. Note these groups are based on deprivation in 2019 and are not constant over time. The intention is to enable users to see trends for authorities that are similar now.
  • The MHCLG Revenue Outturn from 2018-19 has been processed to reflect subsequent Local Authority reorganisation to enable the user the find their current Local Authority. The changes that have happened are:
    • On 1 April 2019 Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council was established, comprising the areas of Bournemouth Borough Council, Christchurch Borough Council & Poole Borough Council. Old Local Authority values have been aggregated to estimate Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council’s value in 2018-19. Dorset County Council’s values have been apportioned to Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole based on Christchurch’s share of Dorset County’s population.
    • On 1 April 2019 Dorset Council was established, comprising the areas of East Dorset District Council, North Dorset District Council, Purbeck District Council, West Dorset District Council and Weymouth & Portland District Council. Old Local Authority values have been aggregated to estimate the new Dorset Council (Unitary) in 2018-19. Dorset County Council’s values have been apportioned to Dorset Council (Unitary) based on East Dorset, North Dorset, Purbeck, West Dorset and Weymouth & Portland Council’s share of Dorset County’s population.
    • On 1 April 2020 Buckinghamshire Council will be established, comprising the areas of Aylesbury Vale District Council, Chiltern District Council, South Bucks District Council, Wycombe District Council and Buckinghamshire County Council. Old Local Authority values have been aggregated to estimate Buckinghamshire Council (Unitary) in 2018-19. 

Visualisation


More information 

Why has the NAO published these data?

This data visualisation has been prepared under Section 6 of the National Audit Act 1983 for presentation to the House of Commons in accordance with Section 9 of the Act

How can I get an accessible version of this visualisation?

Phone the NAO Enquiries point +44 (0)20 7798 7264.

Alternatively, you can email general enquiries to enquiries@nao.org.uk or use our online contact form.

My question is not answered here, where can I get more information?

Phone the NAO Enquiries point +44 (0)20 7798 7264.

Alternatively, you can email general enquiries to enquiries@nao.org.uk or use our online contact form.