Childhood obesity

Childhood obesity is a growing issue in the UK that is on track to become an epidemic problem. Over one fifth of children in Reception are overweight or living with obesity and this rises to 37.7% of children in Year 6.

Children have high energy requirements because they are growing. A varied and nutritious diet is essential for their development. However, like adults, if they take in more energy in the form of food than they use up, the extra energy is stored in their bodies as fat.

Problems childhood obesity can cause

Children who are overweight tend to grow up into adults who are overweight. This means they'll have a higher risk of developing serious health problems in later life, including heart attack, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

Being overweight as a child can also cause psychological distress. Teasing about their appearance affects children's confidence and self-esteem and can lead to isolation and depression.

How to help your child become a healthier weight

Small lifestyle changes go a long way and can make a big difference. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Find support - speak to your child's school nurse, GP or practice nurse who will help support your family with diet and lifestyle changes if needed. You can use the NHS find a GP service if you need to
  • Make some healthier food swaps - there are lots of easy ways to cut back on sugar, salt and saturated fat – get started with our top tips and simple swaps. Food facts has useful information to get you started
  • Eat balanced meals - use The Eatwell Guide and find out what a healthy, balanced diet looks like
  • Try some new recipes - get inspiration to help your family eat well every day with these healthy recipes
  • Get moving - try boosting your family's activity levels in 10-minute bursts with these NHS Disney-inspired play along games
  • Less screen time, better sleep - sitting around too much makes it more likely your child will put on weight and can affect how well they sleep. Sleeping well helps kids develop, stay healthy and perform better at school. Try these sleep and relaxation tips

Children's weight management services in Wandsworth

The Health4Life team run a healthy lifestyle group and one-to-one programmes for overweight and very overweight children aged 2 to 11 years. 

  • Health4Life Minis - runs for four consecutive weeks for 1 hour per week 
  • Health4Life KickStart - runs for between eight to ten consecutive weeks depending on school term length for 1.5 hours 

How the programmes works

The programmes are family-based and centred on nutrition education, practical food activities and the promotion of physical activity. They are delivered by a registered nutritionist and a physical activity leader. The aims of the programmes are to: 

  • Improve eating behaviours and promote nutritional knowledge 
  • Decrease sedentary behaviours, increase physical activity and improve knowledge of the benefits of being active 
  • Promote the attainment of a healthy weight for age 

Accessing the programmes 

Children identified through the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) with BMI over the 91st centile at reception, or BMI over the 98th centile at year 6, will be offered a place on a programme.

Families are also able to self-refer by emailing the team.

Further information 

For more information about the programme and to self-refer, you can email  

You can visit our healthy schools section to learn more about school-based initiatives that can prevent childhood obesity.