BACKGROUND: The prevalence of obesity in childhood is of high concern, especially in deprived populations. We explored trends in obesity following the introduction of a citywide strategy focused on preschool children. METHODS: Analysis of obesity prevalence using the National Child Measurement Programme 2009 to 2017 for primary-school children in Leeds using 5-year aggregated data for Leeds, comparable cities, and England as a whole. RESULTS: Prevalence of obesity in Leeds for school entry children fell significantly (9.4% to 8.8%), whilst comparable cities (CC) and England as a whole showed no change (comparison of trends: P < 0.001 and P < 0.001). The reduction in Leeds was primarily in the most deprived (11.5% to 10.5%; trend comparison CC: P < 0.001, Eng: P < 0.001), but also amongst the affluent (6.8% to 6.0%; trend comparison CC: P = 0.087, Eng: P = 0.012). Prevalence in older children in Leeds was unchanged whilst it increased for comparable cities and England (trend comparison CC: P < 0.001, Eng: P < 0.001). In the deprived, obesity increased: Leeds by 1.4%; CC 1.3%, England 1% (trend comparison Eng: P = 0.004). In the affluent, obesity prevalence reduced more in Leeds than elsewhere: 2% in Leeds, 0.8% in CC, and 0.7% in England (trend comparison CC: P < 0.001, Eng: P ≤ 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: There has been a notable decrease in the prevalence of obesity especially amongst the most disadvantaged children at entry to primary school in Leeds. How this was achieved merits in-depth consideration.
childhood obesity, health disparities, health inequalities, national child measurement programme, obesity prevalence