Mental health concerns after sporty Stevenage 10-year-old told she’s overweight
PUBLISHED: 08:30 21 March 2020
The mum of a keen 10-year-old footballer deemed overweight and advised to go on a weight management and behaviour change programme has hit back, saying such misleading information could affect a child’s mental health.
Kerry Beak’s daughter, Chloe Jo, is a pupil at Moss Bury Primary School in Stevenage and has been subjected to the National Child Measurement Programme.
The government says the programme measures the height and weight of children in reception and Year 6 to assess overweight and obesity levels in primary schools.
There is no mention of underweight children.
Heights and weights are measured and used to calculate Body Mass Index - widely considered an inaccurate measure of body fat content that does not take into account muscle mass, bone density or overall body composition.
Chloe Jo, who plays football - training three nights a week and coaching Under 7s - has been deemed overweight and at risk of health problems.
Kerry said: “The letter had her name on it, so she opened it.
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“We have been offered to go to BeeZee - a healthy lifestyle programme - which would be great if my very active daughter had a weight problem.
“She’s not fat. She’s a fit child. I have explained to her that it’s nonsense, and people from her football club have told her it’s muscle not fat, but it’s mentally scarring.
“As if the girls and boys of today don’t have enough to worry about when it comes to body image and the society we live in.
“She was upset and now I have to make sure this doesn’t affect her. A problem has been created where there wasn’t one. This could be very harmful to a child.”
A spokesman for Herts County Council - which commissions the scheme - said: “We are sorry this parent is unhappy about the letter they have received.
“We write to all parents before measurement takes place and they are given the chance to opt their child out if they wish.
“Parents are urged to contact the school nursing team if they have any concerns or would like to talk through the results, and we would encourage the parent in this case to do so.
“Helping children to achieve a healthy weight is important for their chances in the rest of life, can help prevent some forms of diabetes and cancer in later life, and also promote mental health and wellbeing.”