UK Government Warn Child Obesity
Parents of primary school children are to receive an official letter from UK government intended to warn them if their child's weight is above the healthy standards on the basis of their age under new plans complied by the Department of Health, UK.
Schools regularly measure child's height and weight at the age of 4-5 and again when they are between the ages of 10 and 11; however parents can opt to exempt their children from this process. The output of these measurements are used to calculate the body mass index (BMI) -- an rough measure of fat in the body which determines whether a person is underweight, a healthy weight, overweight or clinically obese.
The letter will inform parents about their child's results and will recommend them to contact their local GP or practice nurse if they seek further help. But ministers have banned the use of any wording which could be seen as unpleasant in nature -- such as "fat" or "obese" -- fearing that such unethical descriptions could isolate overweight children from others and cause parents to dismiss the letter out of hand. Instead, children who are clinically overweight will be referred to as "very overweight".
Figures from 2006-7 reveal that just over one in five children -- 22.9 percent -- aged 4-5 were either flabby or obese, with that number rising to almost one in three -- or 31.6 percent -- by the age of 10-11. Will Cavendish, head of health and wellbeing at the Department of Health, said the term "obese" was unhelpful. "Use of the word obese shuts people down," he said. "We have not banned (it) but we have chosen not to use it. There's no point giving them a letter that does not have any impact on their behaviour."
Health Minister Ivan Lewis said most parents are eager to know if there was any concern about their children's health, but studies showed many parents are unclear about when weight was becoming a serious issue to be tackled carefully. "Research explains that most parents of overweight or obese children believe that their child is a healthy weight," he said. "This important move isn't intended to point finger on obese children and telling their parents that they are overweight. Instead it's about acquainting parents with the information which is indispensable to help their children live sound and healthier lives."