Health

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England Announces New Plan to Address Childhood Obesity

August 06, 2008 07:00 AM
by Lindsey Chapman
A new government initiative in England aims to work with parents to help them address childhood obesity problems.

30-Second Summary

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England’s government has decided to work with schools to raise awareness of childhood obesity.

As part of a new national measuring program, schools will record each student’s height and weight and send a letter to parents to notify them if their child has a weight problem. The country has changed its previous policy of only sending this type of information to parents if it was requested.

To avoid stigmatizing obese children and turning parents off to problems, however, the letter will call kids “very overweight” instead of “obese.” Tam Fry of the National Obesity Forum said the decision was “prissy.” Fry explained that the United States had avoided the word “obese” for awhile, but reversed its thinking. “The Americans have gone back to using the term because it is the kind of shock word that makes parents sit up and take notice.”

The letters are drawing some criticism because they won’t include a child’s precise body mass index. A child’s results will simply be placed on a sliding scale. Health spokeswoman Sandra Gidley said, “The Government is clearly pussy-footing around this issue. Unless these letters are accompanied by practical help, then they will be a waste of time and resources.”

In the United States, researchers say childhood obesity rates have not increased since 1999. Obesity is still a concern, though, states Dr. Daniel Levy, because “this is the first generation of children that has a lower life expectancy than their parents’ generation.”

Headline Link: Letters about obesity

Reaction: Thoughts on England’s plan

Related Topic: Children’s health

Reference: Body Mass Index

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