DoH removes 'obese' from child BMI letters

The DoH's National Child Measurement Programme will no longer refer to children with high BMI as 'obese', after a series of high-profile complaints from parents.

The new letter for PCTs to go out in 2010/11 expresses a child’s BMI as a centile, setting out the child’s position against a population ideal.

Children in the top 2% will be referred to as ‘very overweight’ instead of ‘obese’. Those in the bottom 2% are defined as ‘underweight’.

One in three children are currently overweight or obese, with DoH research showing the parents of many of these children think their weight is normal.

Tam Fry, honorary chairman of the Child Growth Foundation and board member of the National Obesity Forum, said the letter was an improvement on last year’s effort. He welcomed the omission of ‘scary’ references to co-morbidities.

‘There is clinical benefit in the letter. It should prompt the parent of an "overweight" child to discuss the information with a health professional,’ he said. ‘He/she can then determine any intervention that might be necessary.’

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