NEWS

2012-04-23

NHS obese child?

A mother has spoken of her anger after her fighting fit four-year-old daughter was branded obese by NHS bosses - despite weighing just 3st 7lb. 

Furious mum-of- four Natasha Gray blasted health officials after she received a letter labelling her active and healthy daughter Lacie May as "clinically obese." 

The youngster - who loves nothing more than playing on her trampoline and swimming - was warned in the letter of the long term 'serious implications' of her weight - including cancer and heart disease.

But fuming Natasha, 34, is adamant there is nothing wrong with her daughter's weight and that at 3ft 6ins tall and weighing 3st 7lbs - she is just a normal child. 

And the married full-time mum believes that raising such issues with impressionable children could lead to eating disorders in later life. 

She said: “It is absolutely ridiculous. She is one of the smallest in her reception class and there is no way she is overweight, let alone very overweight.

"Children aren't stupid and listen to conversations - it could give her self-confidence issues and she could grow up to be anorexic.

“The letter is very over-the-top - it suggested I contact my local GP practice for advice, and when I rang them they basically laughed and said there was nothing the matter with Lacie-May."

Natasha, received the letter after an NHS nursing team carried out a routine height and weight measurement check at Marshland St James Primary School, in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire. 

She and her classmates had their height and weight measured by NHS staff to calculate their body mass index as part of a scheme  aimed at cracking down on childhood obesity.

She registered a BMI ‘centile’ of 98. Between 91 and 97 is classed as overweight, and 98 and above is clinically obese.

The letter offers the opportunity for Natasha to enrol on the MEND programme (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition, Do It) to learn how to make her family eat more healthily and be more active.

But Natasha, from Wisbech, is happy that Lacie-May and her other three children: Brandon, 16, Charlotte, 11, and Kelsey, 9, are already eat a healthy diet and are very active.

She added: “She is not a big eater, she doesn’t just sit and eat crisps all day. She has three meals and an occasional snack. 

"The school knows its children and their families, surely it would be better for them to say something if they think there is an issue like being overweight than to have strangers making judgements based on a set of guidelines.

“I contacted the NHS Trust to tell her how ridiculous and upsetting the letter was and her response was to offer to send someone out to speak to me about a healthier lifestyle."

Anna Morgan, Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust  Director of Operations, said: “The Child Measurement Programme letters, which are based on a nationally developed template, give parents an indication of their child’s height, weight and BMI measurements.

“This is to help ensure parents are aware of whether their child’s BMI is within the ‘healthy’ range or not. 

"By providing parents with this information, which gives an accurate snap-shot in time, we aim to help parents to make informed decisions about their family’s lifestyle.

“We’re not suggesting that children don’t change size and shape as they grow, but these measurements can help parents to understand whether their child is likely to be a healthy weight for their height, age and gender.

“A key part of the letters is the information which signposts parents to local services, which offer opportunities and advice about choosing healthier lifestyles.

“Not all families will feel they need this, but it is important that families are able to access this advice, should they want to.”