British schools to inform parents of overweight children

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Parents will now be informed if their child is overweight
Image: Robert Lawton.

Starting in September, British schools will inform parents of their child's weight in an attempt to deal with the growing issue of obesity, according to an announcement by the Department of Health (DoH).

Nearly 23% of children aged 4-5 are overweight or obese, with that figure growing to nearly 32% for children aged 10-11. Standard procedures in schools involve weighing and measuring children in schools to determine their body mass index (BMI). The information is passed on to the National Health Service (NHS) to determine the extent of obesity in the area.

Parents will soon be sent a letter of their child's weight, including advice on what to do if the child is overweight. However, government ministers have ruled that "offensive" language, such as "obese" or "fat" will not be allowed to be used in the letters, with words such as "overweight" being used instead.

The letters will provide useful information to parents, such as the problems caused by obesity like diabetes, and how to overcome these problems. Research has shown that parents often do not realise their child is overweight, and the letters will be a "wake-up call" to them.

"We have to get the balance right between being a nanny state and a neglectful state," said Will Cavendish, the director of health and wellbeing at the DoH.