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To think the 'your child is in the overweight category' letters from the child measurement program are a waste of money?

(151 Posts)
Readytomakechanges Fri 24-Mar-17 13:25:03

I've had a few friends receive these letters recently and the reaction is broadly the same:
"What a load of bollocks"
"He/she is always moving"
"There's not an ounce of fat on him/her"
I was prompted to start this thread as a friend has recently posted a pic of her DC's letter on Facebook. Cue many comments along the lines of the above statements.
My AIBU is, what's the point spending the money to print and post these letters when most (in my admittedly limited experience as perhaps those that do act on it are less outspoken) parents declare them nonsense anyway.
Would it be better to save the money and spend it on better physical education in schools or something?

blubberball Fri 24-Mar-17 13:27:20

I agree. Were the kids over weight? Are people just being polite, and not seeing the true picture? Or were the letters wrong in this case?

AndKnowItsSeven Fri 24-Mar-17 13:30:55

I was sent a "your dd is underweight letter", complete with a leaflet about increasing exercise, reducing fat with low fat yoghurt , margarine not butter etc hmm
Dd has followed the same centile since birth.

Sirzy Fri 24-Mar-17 13:32:02

I think it's a shame is just a letter in most areas and not more support.

Problem is though if parents have their heads in the sand then in most cases the letter won't make them take it out of the sand

Dumbo412 Fri 24-Mar-17 13:32:26

What/when do these letters get sent?

My DD would probably be in line for one, 9 years old, wears an age12-13 but currently stands at 5"2 which makes her the size of an adult.

If just weight is taken into account of course!

Readytomakechanges Fri 24-Mar-17 13:36:47

Hmm, that was useful for you andknowitseven hmm

It's difficult to tell blubberball as I mostly see them in their school uniforms, but they don't look huge.

The friend who's posted the letter on Facebook has included a picture of her son in swim wear and he doesn't look particularly overweight to my eyes, but I can't easily see his ribs.

Miloarmadillo1 Fri 24-Mar-17 13:37:33

They use BMI centiles, so it takes height into account. Parents are very defensive about being told their child is overweight, I'm sure a lot of the letters do just get binned. Is the alternative to save money by not telling them? I doubt they would reach that conclusion and make changes on their own. We have completely lost sight of what a healthy weight looks like.

Readytomakechanges Fri 24-Mar-17 13:38:35

dumbo all out DCs got measured and the letters sent out this year. The DCs are in reception class.

MatildaTheCat Fri 24-Mar-17 13:42:06

I don't know about the efficacy of letters but posting a nearly naked picture of your child on FB and inviting responses about their overweightness or otherwise is disgusting.

Poor child. I hope they do the same back to their DM and see how she feels about it.

Iamastonished Fri 24-Mar-17 13:42:33

"We have completely lost sight of what a healthy weight looks like."

This can't be reiterated often enough. Chances are that the children are overweight and the parents are in denial. You should be able to see a child's ribs.

ImFuckingSpartacus Fri 24-Mar-17 13:46:03

It's better than doing nothing, isn't it? There are some bloody enormous children around the place, the parents can't all be in denial, can they?
I was shocked at swimming the other day, there was a child around the same age as one of mine, so 10-11, and she must have weighed more than I do.

Readytomakechanges Fri 24-Mar-17 13:47:12

I had the same thought matilda. I didn't like the posting of the letter on Facebook full stop as thought it was a breech of the DCs privacy, but the Mum is usually very sensible and I suspect was feeling vulnerable so posted specifically to make herself feel better with the "of course he's not fat" string of comments.

CancellyMcChequeface Fri 24-Mar-17 13:48:52

I agree. Either the parents know about their DC's weight issue and are already doing something about it, in which case the letter is useless, or they'll ignore the letter or find it insulting, regardless of the child's weight, or the child isn't actually overweight as BMI is an imperfect measure.

I can't imagine anyone receiving the letter and thinking 'wow, I never realised s/he was overweight, I'm so glad the school told me.' So they're a waste of money.

StandAndBeCounted Fri 24-Mar-17 13:49:40

I had a letter about my daughter in reception. She's now in yr 3. She had been underweight all her life having been born small and not putting weight on well as a baby. I realize some of you will say I'm delusional, but she honestly didn't have a scrap of fatswimming She walked to and from school daily totaling 3.4 miles, did swimming and karate both once a week as well as all the normal 4 year old bombing around/playing at the park etc.

There were children even smaller than her receiving the same letters.

The BMI system has been proven to be out of date and an inaccurate measurement, but they're still using it.

When DD 2's turn came I knew enough to opt out of the process and to my horror they weighed her anyway!!! No letter for her though which is ironic as she's definitely more chubby than DD1!

Not only do I think its a waste of money, I also think its incredibly dangerous to teach 4 year olds that they need to be concerned about their weight. And yes, the majority of parents I know ditched the letter in the bin

Natsku Fri 24-Mar-17 13:50:20

Just sending letters is a waste of money as it seems that so many parents think the letters are wrong. They need to be told, in person, and given actual support not just a list of suggestions. And just weighing them in Reception and again in Year 6 is not good enough, that's far too many years in between in which a child's weight can go up too much making it much harder to fix the problem when it finally gets addressed. Children should be weighed and measured every year.

sirfredfredgeorge Fri 24-Mar-17 13:50:50

The actual measuring needs to be done so the levels across the whole population are known for planning etc. and then the letters are extremely cheap, so won't need to get many positive responses to succeed.

And yes, lots of people are in complete denial, more so about the amount their children exercise than the amount they weigh or eat generally.

Gileswithachainsaw Fri 24-Mar-17 13:52:12

Yes they are a waste of time. No one is going to take notice of a generic letter with the usual generic information.

What's needed is more targeted information and support. I'm assuming the letters go out to kids with medical conditions which take medication with weight gain as a side effect alongside kids who's parents allow entire grab bags of doritos after school. The same information/advice will clearly be useless fir one or both the children.

I think know support is the key. More free sports events reduced rates to swimming lessons/gym maybe? Rather than useless lielterature that gets thrown as people won't take it seriously when same stuff is being said to someone who is overweight due to disability etc

StandAndBeCounted Fri 24-Mar-17 13:52:50

* fat on her

You should be able to see a child's ribs ....... O ..... M .... G

ImFuckingSpartacus Fri 24-Mar-17 13:52:59

The BMI system has been proven to be out of date and an inaccurate measurement, but they're still using it

It really hasn't. It's a useful tool, always was and always will be , as long as it is used correctly. Often it isn't used correctly, but that isn't a problem with the tool itself, its the people using it.

CreamCrackerundertheSettee Fri 24-Mar-17 13:53:42

There was a story on the bbc website the other day with outraged parents complaining about the letters. Unless a mistake had been made with the calculations, then I can't see the benefit of embarrassing your child by publicising that they are overweight. It must be annoying if your child is just into the overweight category but there has to be a cut off somewhere.

Readytomakechanges Fri 24-Mar-17 13:55:32

I wasn't suggesting doing nothing, just redirecting the money into a different approach with the same aim.
Some ideas: A parent education leaflet or evening at the school explaining about how we have lost sight of what a healthy weight looks like and giving things to look out for (this may be less likely to make parents immediately defensive) and ideas of activities etc.
Extra PE in schools.
Better parks in the area.
Does anyone know if we have any data on the efficacy of these letters?
I may however be talking out of my arse and the money saved by not printing these letters may not be enough to finance any of the above, or they may not be any more effective.

ImFuckingSpartacus Fri 24-Mar-17 13:57:26

Without fail, every time I've seen a picture of a kid and a parent saying "how dare they say my child is fat", I've always looked and thought "yup, they're fat, what a twat you are to show everyone else that they are".

CancellyMcChequeface Fri 24-Mar-17 13:58:09

I also think its incredibly dangerous to teach 4 year olds that they need to be concerned about their weight.

I agree, Stand. I think it's also very damaging to teach children of this age about 'healthy eating' in the way it's done in schools. When I last worked in early years I objected to an activity asking children to sort pictures into 'good foods' and 'bad foods.' It's so much more complex than that, and children of this age don't have much if any control over the foods their family buys anyway.

CreamCrackerundertheSettee Fri 24-Mar-17 13:59:26

The letters aren't addressed to the child though so how is it teaching a 4 yr old to be concerned about their weight? The only way a child would be aware is if the parent told them - or posted it all over Facebook.

StandAndBeCounted Fri 24-Mar-17 14:00:25

Spartacus Sorry I don't know how to do a clicky link.

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