UK Parents Will Be Told If Their Children Are Overweight

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From September this year, parents of children who have been weighed and measured at school could automatically receive their child's results in a bid to get parents to be more aware about healthy lifestyles, and help their children achieve a healthy weight, Health Minister Ivan Lewis announced today.

The National Child Measurement Programme weighs and measures the height of all primary school children in reception class and Year 6 (aged 4-5 and 10-11). This year, the Government is urging Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) to send parents the results so that parents don't have to ask for them.

At this stage, about 40 percent of local primary health care trusts have said they intend to automatically contact parents in the next school year, and a further 40 percent will decide when they see the new guidance issued today.

Today's guidance will help PCTs implement this new approach and includes example letters for parents.

Eighty per cent of schoolchildren - an increase of 32 per cent compared to the previous year - in Reception Year and Year 6 were weighed and measured in 2006/7.

Ivan Lewis said:

"It's clear from research we've done that parents want to know their child's results and whether there is a concern about their health. But they want clear information which is helpful and non-stigmatising.

"Today we've published guidance which will help PCTs deliver this programme and help to make sure parents get the information they need about their child's results in ways that they have said will be most helpful.

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"Research shows that most parents of overweight or obese children think that their child is a healthy weight. This important move isn't about pointing the finger and telling parents that their children are overweight, instead it's about equipping parents with the information they need to help their children live healthier lives."

Children's Minister Kevin Brennan said:

"Schools are well placed to make a real difference in tackling obesity - with record investment in sport and exercise; encouraging active travel to and from home; making cooking compulsory in secondary schools; scrapping junk food and transforming the quality of school lunches.

"But at the end of the day, parents bring up children, not the Government, schools or health services. Every parent wants their child to be fit and healthy so it's only right to help them make informed decisions about their lives."

Figures published earlier this year showed that in 2006/7 22.9 per cent of children in Reception year (age four to five) were overweight or obese. In year six (age 10 to 11) 31.6 per cent were overweight.

Tackling obesity is a top cross Government priority; we have invested ?372 million in a strategy to enable people to maintain a healthier weight for a healthier life.

This is just one part of the drive to get people living healthier lives. Recently, the Health Secretary Alan Johnson met with leaders from major health charities, retailers, the health profession and community action groups to discuss how the Government form a national campaign - Change4Life - that will help everyone change the way they live.

This national movement for change will enable every citizen in the country at every stage of their lives to get the encouragement and support they need to be healthy - from what they see on the television, to what they buy in the local supermarket, to the resources at their disposal in the local community, to how they travel to and from work or school, to the information and advice they get from health professionals.

The Government is calling on everyone - from the smallest community keep fit class to the biggest retailers in the land - to join in this campaign to change the way people in England live their lives.

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