Thursday, May 25, 2006


Nobody seems to be mentioning that moderately "overweight" people live longest!

Children are to be weighed at the ages of four and ten and their parents warned if they are too fat. The school screening regime is aimed at fighting the obesity epidemic which threatens a generation of youngsters with a lifetime of ill-health. But the plan triggered angry claims that the Government is trying to dictate the size of children. Critics dismissed the weigh-in scheme as misguided, costly, bureaucratic and a dramatic extension of the 'nanny state'. They said pupils branded overweight could be stigmatised and bullied.

Under the programme, children will be weighed and measured as they start primary school and again before they leave. Parents of those judged too heavy will be sent letters warning of long-term health problems unless they lose weight. School nurses will conduct the first checks this summer and the results will be used to create a 'fat map' of the country.

Ministers are understood to be studying a trial scheme in the U.S. which uses three standard letters - one saying the pupil is within healthy limits, a second raising concerns they may be getting out of shape and a third warning that the child is obese. Details of the scheme emerged as a Parliamentary written answer revealed that one in three youngsters aged two to 15 is now overweight or obese, putting them at risk of a host of serious illnesses. Thirty-three per cent of boys and 35 per cent of girls are estimated to be too heavy. [In the opinion of the do-gooders only] ...

Parents are expected to be told how their children's weight compares with healthy youngsters of the same age and height. Public health minister Caroline Flint has insisted that it is parents who 'first and foremost influence what their children eat'. But parents' groups warned that the weigh-in letters could be ignored or deeply resented while psychiatrists warned of a surge in eating disorders among children.

Margaret Morrissey of the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations said: "It appears to be more of the 'nanny state' and I don't think it's going to be terribly effective. "What we do in our own homes is our business and some parents may not react particularly well. "We all appreciate guidance on good diets but most of us think we are already doing our best to provide that. "Parents may say 'so what?'. If parents have a particular lifestyle and they prefer it, all the letters home in the world will not make a difference. "This will be extremely expensive to introduce and I do not believe it's the most efficient way of tackling obesity."

Dr Robin Arnold, of the British Medical Association's psychiatry committee, said: "It may well be justified in public health terms but one wonders what it will do to rates of eating disorders like anorexia nervosa in the future."

Sociologist Patricia Morgan said youngsters who were tubby as children often became slimmer naturally without outside interference. She said: "It used to be called puppy fat and it was accepted children would often grow out of it. "This is another piece of surveillance and another layer of bureaucracy. The risk is that people will become less likely to change things on their own initiative." ...

The Children's Commissioner, Professor Al Aynsley-Green, has expressed reservations about the scheme and nurses have warned that it could amount to an invasion of privacy. Chris Etherington, vice-chairman of the Royal College of Nursing school nurses forum, said: "The RCN is not opposed to primary school children being weighed and measured but we have concerns about how it will be done to avoid stigmatising them. "Children will pick up on the tallest, largest and smallest. Is this a positive experience for them to be going through?" ...

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