Monday, August 4, 2008
Millions of parents will be told their child is too fat in warning letters to be sent out within weeks – but officials will steer away from using the word ‘obese’.
New guidance means all parents will be told how heavy their children are after they are weighed at school – but parents of the fattest children will not get the plain truth as the ‘O’ word has been banned.
The decision to omit the word ‘obese’ and replace it with ‘very overweight’ has been branded ‘prissy and namby-pamby’.
Those in charge of tackling the nation’s obesity crisis believe the term is a ‘turn-off’ for parents.
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Dr Will Cavendish, director of health and well-being at the Department of Health, denied the word had been banned but said they had ‘chosen not to use it’.
He said research shows it ‘shuts people down’.
‘There’s no point giving them a letter that doesn’t have any impact on their behaviour’ he added.
But Tam Fry, board member of the National Obesity Forum, said it was important to be honest with parents.
He said experts in the US had considered banning the word obese but changed their minds, saying the word was necessary to shock parents into action.
He said ‘I find this particular line from the Government tip-toeing through the daffodils.
‘The Americans have gone back to using the term because it’s the kind of shock word that makes parents sit up and take notice.
‘It’s a nasty word but by god it should sound alarm bells in parents’ minds.
‘I find this whole approach from the Department of Health a bit prissy and namby pamby.’
Under new guidance, primary care trusts (PCTs) are being urged to routinely tell parents their child’s height and weight as part of a national measuring programme at the ages of five and 11.
Parents will be given the chance to opt out in advance, saying they do not want their child measured, but those who agree will receive the results by letter.
Children, who cannot be forced to take part, will not personally be given the results in a bid to prevent them being bullied by other youngsters.