Graphic: Parents arrested after 11-year-old boy is found to weigh 15 stone
Parents of an 11-year-old who weighs 15st have been arrested on suspicion of neglect.
The situation in the rest of the county
Obesity has caused concern across the country and is considered an epidemic by the World Health Organisation.
Norfolk County Council figures show that the county is under the national rate with 8.8pc of reception pupils being obese compared to 9.3pc in England. In the year-six age group the 18.6pc of Norfolk pupils are obese compared with 18.9pc nationally.
A spokesman for Norwich-based eating disorder charity Beat said: “Children should be given the right amount of food for their age and encouraged to have a varied diet, where they eat only the amount of food they require. Parents can sometimes give children the same amount of food as they eat which is far too much.”
The charity added it is important for children to have a good role model when it comes to what to eat.
The council’s Health and Wellbeing Strategy for 2014-2017 aims to work closely with schools and families.
Sarah Barnes, public health commissioning manager for Children and Young People at the council, said: “It’s really important to encourage a healthy lifestyle from a very young age as diet and exercise habits that are formed in childhood are often carried on in adult life.
“Schools take a very active role in promoting healthy eating and physical activity - it’s part of the curriculum and they also have policies about what food and drink can be purchased and brought onto the site.”
At 5ft 1in the King’s Lynn youngster has a Body Mass Index of 41.8 – nearly double the recommended limit.
The parents of the boy, a 49-year-old man and 43-year-old woman, were bailed by police in March ahead of further inquiries.
While officers could not confirm that this is the first case of its kind in the area, they have said it is very rare.
A Norfolk Police spokesman said: “When dealing with sensitive issues such as obesity and neglect of children, officers from the force’s Child Abuse Investigation Unit work closely with partners, significantly with both health care and social services, to ensure any response to address them are proportionate and necessary.
“While it is inappropriate to comment on this case specifically, it is important to stress that intervention at this level is very rare and will
only occur where other attempts to protect the child have been unsuccessful.
“Any action taken by any agency will be subject to a joint strategy between all partner agencies and will always be taken with the welfare of the child and their protection from harm as paramount.”
Social workers have been in contact with the family and they have agreed to conditions to keep to regarding the boy’s health.
The issue was reported to the police by the Queen Elizabeth Hospital after doctors became concerned over the boy’s health.
Catherine Morgan, director of nursing at the hospital, said: “There are very clear guidelines in place to safeguard the interests of children and vulnerable adults which the hospital adheres to. This includes sharing information with our partner agencies as and when appropriate in the best interests of the individual, who will then take their own decision on any follow-up action they feel may be necessary.”
Roger Partridge, who organisers sports events in West Norfolk including the Grand East Anglia Run and Village Games, said he was surprised to hear of such a case in King’s Lynn.
He said: “I would say there is far too much inactivity which does not help obesity levels.
“We organise the Village Games and all kinds of activities to get young people fit and active.
“I think this is a one off case and not part of the wider picture.”
County council figures show that west Norfolk has a higher obesity rate among 10- to 11-year-olds than the county as a whole.
A fifth of west Norfolk’s year-six pupils are obese, 20.9pc, compared to 18.6pc across the county as a whole.
A spokesman for Norfolk County Council said: “We cannot comment on individual cases but our priority will always be the health, well-being and safety of Norfolk’s children and we will always do all we can to support families to meet their children’s needs.”
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