December 11 2013 Latest news:
Sunday, August 11, 2013
Around a quarter of reception year children and a third of 11 to 12-year-olds in Norfolk are likely be told they are overweight or obese when they start or return to school from next month.
However, public health chiefs insisted that the letters they send to parents and carers as part of the National Child Measurement Programme are sensitively written and include positive advice.
Officials at Norfolk County Council welcomed new Public Health England guidance that letters sent out following the measurement scheme must be “non-judgemental”.
More than 8,000 four to five-year-olds were weighed and measured in their first year at school in 2011/12 and more than 1,000 (14.5pc) were classed as overweight and more than 700 (9.1pc) were obese.
Of the 7,600 year 6 children that took part in the programme in 2011/12, more than 1,000 (15pc) were overweight and almost 1,500 (19.2pc) were obese.
The National Child Measurement Programme was launched in 2005 and around 14,000 children from Norfolk take part in the scheme every year.
Lucy Macleod, interim director of Public Health at Norfolk County Council, said that sharing a child’s weight status with a parent was an effective mechanism for raising awareness of the potential health consequences.
“Weight is not an easy subject, and it can be hard for parents to hear that their child is overweight. That’s why the result letters we send out – which are completely confidential – are regularly reviewed and developed in consultation with parents, schools and health professionals, so the content is not only clear and helpful, but sensitively written.”
“Parents want the best for their children – and this information helps them make informed, positive decisions. Department of Health research supports this, showing that parents think the letter is helpful and that most would take action to change their family’s lifestyle after receiving it.
“It’s really important we keep track of our children’s weight, as one in three are currently overweight or obese – and that could lead to health problems in the future,” she said.
Great Yarmouth has the highest proportion of overweight year 6 children in Norfolk at 38pc, with Broadland the lowest at 31pc.
Amongst reception year children, King’s Lynn and West Norfolk has the highest proportion of overweight children in the county at 27pc with Breckland and Broadland the lowest at 20pc.
Nationally, more than a fifth (22.6pc) of children measured as part of the scheme are overweight or obese, rising to one in three (33.9pc) in Year 6.