Poor children are now fatter than their rich counterparts, a new study has found.
Being overweight was once a sign of wealth and children from poorer backgrounds tended to be thinner – but the trend has reversed.
Researchers, who analysed 70 years’ worth of data, have today blamed the rise of cheap junk food and lack of exercise by youngsters.
University College London experts looked at how both the height and weight of children and teenagers have changed between 1946 and 2016.
They found while poorer children have narrowed the gap in height thanks to the availability and affordability of food, unhealthier lifestyles have also seen their Body Mass Index (BMIs) increase.
The research was published in The Lancet Public Health journal.
Figures suggest the average child now consumes 3,000 calories each day through crisps and chocolate – a sharp increase on the 1,800 they were given during the weekly postwar food rations.
A third of children are overweight or obese at 11 in the United Kingdom (UK), and the rates are creeping up despite Government promises to reduce them.
But without drastic action to curb sugar and fat content in food, the widening gap will only get worse, the researchers warn. The study tracked more than 56,000 children born in England, Scotland and Wales in 1946, 1958, 1970 and 2001.