Parents Darren aged 43 and Amanda 33, were shocked to receive a letter from health chiefs informing them that their son is overweight. Thomas Watkins weighs 3 st 10 lbs, and is an extremely active child. According to the NHS, measurements taken from Thomas as part of a national scheme taking measurements and height from all five year olds, indicate that he is overweight. The scheme use Body Mass Index to measure weight, which experts argue is unreliable and inaccurate.
Thomas plays football for his local team, swims and is slim, fit and healthy. Thomas’s parents were shocked when they received the letter, as they take great care to ensure that their son eats three healthy meals a day and is active. His father, Darren said:
There’s not an ounce of fat on Thomas. He is tall for his age but he is definitely not overweight, he cannot even keep still. We could not believe it when we got that letter.
Although both Amanda and Darren believe that there should be a scheme in place to ensure the good health of kids, they consider the present scheme which is run by the Department of Health, to be flawed. A top nutritionist in the United Kingdom believes that waist measurements would give greater accuracy than BMI measurements, as this would measure the amount of fat a child was carrying.
The National Child Measurement Programme set up seven years ago, takes the measurements of children at five years old and again before they leave primary school. A spokesman for the Department of Health says that the scheme is designed to track changes in a child’s development, working towards reducing levels of child obesity, which can cause health problems later in life. The risk of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes is much higher in people who are obese.