December 4 2013 Latest news:
Lizzie Parry, health reporter
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Thousands of letters have been sent to parents and guardians warning them their children are obese or overweight, it can be revealed.
A total of 2,802 letters, sent in Suffolk as part of The National Child Measurement Programme last year, reveal a primary school child to be struggling with their weight.
Parents and guardians of 1,487 children – 763 in reception and 724 in year six – were informed their child was overweight. Meanwhile 1,315 letters told parents a child was obese – with 493 referring to children in reception and 822 in year six.
The rest of the letters sent out informed parents their child was either underweight (in which case they would be offered advice) or within the correct range.
The programme measures children at the ages of five and 11 but parents can choose to opt out and children can decide they do not want to take part on the day.
The World Health Organisation child Body Mass Index growth charts are used to determine if a child is underweight, healthy, overweight or obese.
Contained within the letters to Suffolk parents is advice about the child weight management service in the county, Alive n Kicking run by Live Well Suffolk.
Alan Murray, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for health, said: “We have a responsibility to run the National Child Measurement Programme in Suffolk and follow all the guidelines given to us by central government.
“Parents, and the children themselves, can opt out of the programme but generally, we find that most do take part.
“Whilst Suffolk is below the national average in terms of childhood obesity, no one - including public bodies and parents themselves - should be complacent about that.
“We work very closely with the children and their parents to educate and encourage them to lead healthy lives. Eating healthy, nutritionally-balanced meals and taking part in regular exercise is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
“Our popular ‘Alive and Kicking’ programme helps young people and their families to tackle obesity and the negative impact it can have.
“It’s important that we all take these issues seriously and work together to reduce the rates of child obesity in Suffolk.”
Joanna Spicer, chairman of the Suffolk Health and Wellbeing Board, said tackling childhood obesity was a priority.
“While parents hold the ultimate responsibility for what their children eat and how much exercise they do, it’s important that all influences on a child’s life play a part in this. That includes GP surgeries and schools knowing how each child is doing and taking appropriate action where necessary.
“A person’s weight during childhood is a key indicator of their likely health and wellbeing in later life so it’s vital that these results are taken seriously.”
If you would like help managing your child’s weight, call the Alive n Kicking team on 01473 229292.