A trade union representing health visitors has called more frontline school nursing posts to combat childhood obesity.
New data from the National Child Measurement Programme released today revealed that last year 33.9% of year six pupils, aged 10 or 11, are overweight or obese.
The percentage of children in reception who were overweight or obese was 22.6%.
Unite the Union, of which the Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association is a part, has called for all secondary schools in England to have a dedicated qualified school nurse to work with the new directors of public health, once local government takes over the public health function in the spring.
Unite professional officer Ros Godson said: “It is disappointing that, despite the considerable resources given to the National Child Measurement Programme, it is only recording the problem of childhood obesity, without having any impact upon it.
“Unite calls for a redirection of this money into frontline school nursing services, so that the problem can be prevented.
“Evidence shows that overweight children are likely to become overweight adults, so it is vital that qualified school nurses are employed across the country in sufficient numbers to coordinate all efforts to deal with this public health crisis.
“From next April, the responsibility for school nursing passes to local authorities in England, and many will inherit a greatly impoverished service which cannot cope with the demands.
“Considerable numbers of schools are now independent of local authorities, and links to integrate services have been lost.
“Unite calls on the government to insist that all secondary schools have a full-time qualified school nurse, who can work with the new directors of public health, to tackle this issue. Inaction is inexcusable, when we have such detailed data.”
Public Health Minister Anna Soubry said: "Being overweight can do serious damage to our health so we must reduce levels in children to give them the best start in life.
"That is why we are already taking action to encourage families to eat healthily and get active."
Shadow Health Minister Diane Abbott said: "The Government is stuck in the crisis zone, and yet all they have planned is more half-baked corporate responsibility schemes.
"We're seeing dinner ladies axed in their thousands, healthy school meals on their way out, and the Government has even scrapped its public health committee.
"Action on obesity needs to include local authorities using their powers to control the numbers of fast-food shops, particularly around schools.”