Laura Sharman 10 November 2015

Experts call for reform of 'fat letter'

The Government should scrap the ‘fat letter’ sent to parents of overweight children, according to the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH).

The RSPH has outlined a series of reforms to tackle childhood obesity, including the reform of the letter sent to parents giving them feedback on their children’s weight. The charity says that while weighing primary school children is useful to collect data on obesity rates, parents do not understand the information they receive.

A survey of parents found that just one in five said the information they’ve received as part of the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) has been useful in helping their child lose weight, while only half (51%) understand its purpose.

The RSPH is calling for new measures to be introduced to tackle child obesity including healthy food vouchers for parents, improved access to after school activity clubs, and better integration of NCMP with other initiatives such as Change4Life.

Shirley Cramer, chief executive of RSPH, said: ‘It is unacceptable that one in five children leave primary school classed as obese and we must all pull together to reverse this worrying trend. We hope that the government’s forthcoming obesity strategy will include many of our suggestions for action at all levels, particularly around the promotion of “junk food” to children, encouraging reformulation of food and drink products, especially around sugar content, and increasing activity levels among children.

‘Parents also need to be provided with support, and our calls to reform the “fat letter” are intended to make better use of this. Our research finds that only one fifth of parents find the “fat letter” useful and we believe that the letter should be seen as the beginning of a dialogue with parents, not simply flagging whether their child is obese.’

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