Parents to receive letters if children are obese

Guardian (UK) August 04 2008

Parents will receive official letters telling them if their children are too fat under a government initiative to tackle childhood obesity. The heaviest children will be described as “very overweight”, as ministers believe parents will not accept being told that their child is obese. Health and weight measurements taken at schools in England could be automatically sent to parents from the autumn, under the Department of Health scheme. Ministers want the results to raise parent’s awareness of their children’s weight and the need to live a healthy lifestyle.

But obesity experts criticised ministers for “tip-toeing” around the issue. Tam Fry, board member of the National Obesity Forum, said it was important to be upfront with parents. Experts in the US had also suggested banning the word obese but had now changed their minds and decided the word was necessary, he said. “I find this particular line from the government tip-toeing through the daffodils,” he added. “The Americans have gone back to using the term because it’s the kind of shock word that makes parents sit up and take notice. It’s a nasty word but by God it should sound alarm bells in parents’ minds.