Nurses reject calls to screen for obesity in children

    MPs’ calls for children’s Body Mass Index to be
    measured annually as part of a drive to combat obesity have been
    rejected by school nurses, writes Craig

    A report by the House of Commons health select committee
    suggests that children’s BMI ought to be measured in school
    and the results sent confidentially to parents in a bid to prevent
    overweight children being stigmatised.

    Along with the child’s BMI results, parents might also be
    sent advice on how to modify diet and exercise patterns, the report

    ‘Given that research indicates that many parents are no
    longer even able to identify whether their children are overweight
    or not, this seems to us a vital step in tackling obesity,’
    says the health committee report.

    Research suggests that almost a quarter of children under four
    years old in the UK are overweight. One London consultant told MPs
    about a three-year-old child who died of heart failure as a result
    of a complication of ‘extreme’ obesity.

    But Pat Jackson, professional officer for school health at the
    Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association, said that
    measuring a child’s BMI would not work in isolation.

    “School nurses don’t have a large workforce and have
    just got rid of a lot of historical screening programmes,”
    she said. “To turn them into screeners again would take them
    away from other preventative work in public health.

    “And what follow up would there be for the large number of
    children with raised BMI?” she concluded.


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