Child obesity is still on the rise and latest news from the government outlines new ways to tackle this so called “obesity epidemic.” In what strikes us here at Diets Don’t Work as more meddling, it’s ironic that in an age where health and safety, media alarmism, lack of sports in schools, lack of overall sports funding, the abolition in many cases of competitive sports in school (all at a huge cost to the taxpayer) have all conspired to discourage outdoor play and sporting activity, that Government is now having to meddle to try and make us less fat!
Parents of primary school children are to receive an official government letter warning them if their child’s weight is above the healthy norm for their age under new plans drawn up by the Department of Health.
Schools routinely measure a child’s height and weight at the age of 4-5 and again when they are between the ages of 10 and 11, although parents can chose to exempt their children from the process. The resulting measurements are used to calculate the body mass index (BMI) — an approximate measure of body fat which indicates whether a person is underweight, a healthy weight, overweight or clinically obese. The letter will advise parents of their child’s results and will suggest they contact their local GP or practice nurse if they want further help. (At this point please have a look at my previous article regarding BMI and it’s limitations..)
But ministers have outlawed the use of any wording which could be seen as offensive — such as “fat” or “obese” — for fear such descriptions could alienate overweight children 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 show that just over one in five children — 22.9 percent — aged 4-5 were either overweight 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 wanted to know whether there was any concern about their children’s health, but studies showed many were unclear about when weight was becoming an issue.
Our advice as personal trainers is get your children out as much as possible, they can look after themselves better than Government thinks. Have them try as many sports as possible, and hopefully they will find one they like.