DoH fails to inform parents of children's obesity

The National Child Measurement Programme reported 80 per cent uptake and found 239,000 overweight children.

The DoH has failed to inform parents of almost a quarter of a million primary school children in England and Wales that their child is overweight or obese.

The DoH recently boasted of an 80 per cent uptake rate on the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) in 2006/7 after a dismal 48 per cent show in the previous year.

But while 239,021 children in the first and last years of primary school were identified as being overweight or obese in 2006/7, there was no system for informing parents or giving advice.

Commons Health Select Committee chairman and MP for Rother Valley, Kevin Barron said: 'The predicted levels of childhood obesity in this country in 20 years time are alarming and it seems that whoever measures what they measure and then what they do with that information is going to be crucially important to public health in the 21st century.

'Why bother measuring kids if you aren't going to give them some advice about something that potentially could be life threatening?' Mr Barron added.

From 2008/9 the DoH hopes PCTs will be able to inform parents of their children's BMI, whether or not the child's weight is a matter for concern, as well as providing healthy living tips. This follows legislative changes made in the Health and Social Care Bill last November.

At the same time, parents will still be able to opt out of being informed, as well as opt out of having their child's BMI measured at all.

A DoH spokesman said: 'For the current year's NCMP programme, parents can request their child's results if they wish, however, results are not provided routinely.'

Dr Colin Waine, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, said: 'If it's going to be successful it's got to inform parents and provide supportive services.

'Measuring at school entry is too late,' he added. 'We need to be measuring at year one.'

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