During the last decade, 1,655,000 children have started secondary school overweight or obese in England, according to new calculations by Cancer Research UK for World Obesity Day.
This worrying number foretells a future of ill-health which could cost the NHS billions.
We know that obese children are around five times more likely to become obese adults, and carrying too much weight increases the risk of cancer as well as other diseases.
Being overweight or obese is the second biggest preventable cause of cancer in the UK after smoking and contributes to around 18,100 cases of cancer every year. It is linked to 13 types of cancer including bowel, breast, and pancreatic.
Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK's director of prevention, said: "It's concerning to know that so many children start secondary school -- formative years in a child's life -- carrying too much weight.
"We must give children the best chance for a healthy future. Measures like the sugary drinks tax can make a difference and the Government must press ahead with this vital measure."
"But there is no silver bullet and more action is needed. The Government has already recognised the influence of junk food marketing on children's health by banning junk food advertising during children's programmes -- it's time to close the loop hole during family viewing time."
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