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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