Almost a third of Canadian children are considered either overweight or obese, new figures from Statistics Canada reveal.

According to the latest Canadian Health Measures Survey, 31.5 per cent of children aged five to 17 were overweight in 2009 to 2011. That’s an estimated 1.6 million kids.

The prevalence of obesity is higher among boys -- especially in the five to 11 age group. In that age group, it was three times higher in boys than girls: 19.5 per cent compared with 6.3 per cent.

For children of all ages, 15.1 per cent of boys were obese compared with eight per cent of girls.

The authors of the Statistics Canada study note that obesity rates among children haven’t changed much in recent years. They also say it’s hard to tell if the prevalence of obesity is still growing or if it’s slowed.

“Regardless, the estimates remain high and are a public health concern, given the tendency for excess weight in childhood to persist through to adulthood,” they write, noting that obese children tend to become obese adults.

They also note that excess weight in childhood has been linked to type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, poor emotional health, and diminished social well-being.