A woman criticized health officials for calling her five-year-old daughter fat and telling her to lose weight in a letter.
A mother of two has lambasted health officials for calling her five-year-old daughter fat and telling her to lose weight in a letter.
Jemma Fletcher, 37, from the UK, received the letter from her local hospital after her baby daughter Lily was weighed at school by visiting nurses, reports The Sun.
The letter was sent by the National Health Service – England’s public health system – after recent tests of Lily’s height and weight statistics showed she was over the recommended weight for her age.
But Jemma was disgusted and slammed the letter, saying it could fuel mental health issues like anxiety and stress among young people and parents.
âI was absolutely disgusted and shocked to read that Lily was classified as overweight. It’s just overwhelming,â the mother said.
âThere is nothing on her, she is small. My family all told me “don’t worry about this, it’s just a letter, we all know she’s not overweight”.
âI know she’s not overweight, but if you’re a struggling parent you can take it and put your child on a diet. As a mom, you have enough to worry about.
“What if I was someone who didn’t have that support and was suffering from anxiety and worry for their children anyway?” This letter could easily have pushed them to the limit.
“It’s pretty difficult anyway, there is enough pressure on you to look a certain way, it could really give a kid a complexion at a young age.”
The tests were carried out by the NHS in schools in October as part of a National Child Measurement Program (NCMP).
Students’ height and weight are measured to find the child’s body mass index (BMI), and then compared to the national average.
In the letter, Jemma learned that Lily was 114.9 cm tall and weighed 24.6 kg, which is classified as “overweight”.
The letter goes on to offer a free 12-week healthy living program and suggests that she encourage her daughter to “make simple changes to be more active” even though she is already fit and healthy.
But Jemma, from Sheffield, South Yorkshire, has asked the NHS to further personalize the letters based on the children’s growth rather than based on statistics.
âI don’t disagree with the letter, what I’m saying is that it needs to be personalized. I am totally ready to send letters to children, but personalize them for this child, âJemma said.
âIf it had been better explained in the letter, it might not have caused so much concern and upheaval.
âSomeone just puts the numbers into a computer and sends the letters to the families. “
The National Childhood Measurement Program is a program that allows foster and sixth grade children to be weighed and measured at school. This will be used to calculate their BMI.
The figure is reached by comparing the weight of a child with his age, height and sex.
Once the BMI has been calculated, the child will be classified into one of four categories: underweight, healthy weight, overweight or very overweight.
About one in five children at reception are classified as overweight or obese, rising to one in three by grade six.
Parents are informed of the category to which their child belongs, which the NHS says enables them to plan and provide better health services for children.
But Jemma, who also lives with husband Toby, 36, and eldest daughter Amelia, 7, thinks the one-size-fits-all approach is wrong.
She added, âI know Lily is doing enough, she is not overweight. She’s a little tall for her age, but we’re tall. I am 5’7 (170cm) and his father is 6’2 (187cm), it’s in his genes.
âShe is very active, she is always on her bike and she runs everywhere, she wears clothes of size 4-5 or 5-6, which is suitable for her age.
âI would like the letters to be more individual and linked to past metrics, not just what they’re compared to the national average.
Greg Fell, Director of Public Health for Sheffield, said: âThe NCMP is an extremely valuable program which helps provide important information relating to the health and well-being of children living in the city.
âI am completely satisfied that the program follows national guidelines to monitor overweight and obesity at the population level.
“He does not intend to offend or upset but to support families in their efforts to lead healthy lives.”
This article originally appeared on The Sun and has been reprinted with permission