National child measurement programme needs to change!

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The National Child Measurement Programme is great in theory but is far too simplistic. A simple height v's weight, sex and age tool does not consider one huge factor...PUBERTY! An 11 year old girl who has the body shape of a young woman and has already started her menstrual cycle cannot be directly compared to a child of the same age who is not likely to develop in this way until she is 15.

Some children require support and advise about health and weight management however, to hear that so many normal weight children are receiving the letter to say that they are overweight for an 11 year old. An example an 11 year old sporty child is 157cm tall and weighs 50.7kg, she is according to the chart 'overweight'. However if you change one variable and say that the child is 13 years old she suddenly becomes 'normal in terms of BMI. The child in question looks more like a 13 year old than an 11 year old due to their stage in puberty but the programme doesn't allow for this and therefore deems this child to be overweight! The impact for this already vulnerable young person due to hormone changes they are going through is potentially huge. They have now been told by what they see as a health professional that they are overweight when the reality is they are just maturing faster than their friends. 

Consequences; eating disorders, lack of confidence, depression plus many more and just because the tool used was too simplistic.

The letter is sent to the childs parents via the child. That's fine when measuring the younger age group (age 5), but an 11 year old will want to know what the letter says. It's a ridiculous system and to add fuel to the fire the day that the letters are sent home it's all over national news that a third of year 6 child are overweight! So not only is the tool not accurate, it then announces the results nationally for all of the children to hear which reinforces to them that there is a problem.

Yes there are a number of children that are overweight and support would be beneficial but the tool as it's used at the moment puts children who are not overweight into the category which for some will have an effect on them for the rest of there lives. 

It is suggested that social media and media in general puts pressure on children to conform to a certain look and here is our own health professionals doing exactly the same.



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