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One in three primary school children are obese

24th January 2011

Consultant paediatrician and government obesity adviser Professor Mary Rudolf says parents often do not recognise when children are overweight.

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While many people are aware of obesity issues and that the UK is in the midst of a child obesity epidemic, many parents are still unable to tell when their own child is overweight.

A national poll revealed recently that in 1,000 parents of children aged 4-7, only 14% of those with an obese child considered their child was overweight.

The difficulty is in knowing what is normal and with a third of primary school children overweight, it is even harder to identify a problem.

But it is not only parents who have trouble. Many health professionals also struggle to identify a healthy weight in children.

With the introduction in 2005 in primary schools of the National Child Measurement Programme, parents received information on their child’s ideal weight and some were surprised, or even angry, at being told their offspring was too heavy.

But the letter they received was not meant to suggest parents had failed but was designed to help them make positive decisions about their child’s lifestyle.

In general, parents accepted the letter as a wake-up call and changed eating and exercise habits of their children.

Meanwhile, schools are also working to ensure that children under their care spend time in a healthier environment with better opportunities for healthy food choices and physical activity.

While the introduction of the National Child Measurement Programme has been controversial, it will help parents improve the lifestyle of their children and protect them from the problems that accompany obesity and unhealthy lifestyles.

 

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