Parents of children in East Sussex are outraged after receiving letters from schools, calling their kids ‘very overweight’ and ‘a minority’.
Children had their height and weight measured at school to calculate their BMI (body mass index), as part of the Change 4 Life scheme, which aims to encourage a healthy lifestyle, but after receiving the letters, parents have criticised the poor choice of wording and complained that the way the letters have been written could be detrimental to a child’s mental health and self-esteem.
4-year-old Hunter was measured at his school in Eastbourne, East Sussex. Hunter’s mother, Jessica, received the letter and was shocked by the way it describes her son:
“The letter was very condescending and patronising. This for me was very embarrassing and I felt the wording of the letter came across as rude and lacked a lot of thought. To state that he is very overweight just by his BMI seemed ridiculous, as it doesn’t take into account his genetics or build. The letter continued to call him a minority child, which to me is completely outrageous. No child should be categorised as a minority, especially when it comes to weight, because it could be so damaging to their self-esteem and confidence.”
Jessica isn’t alone. After posting her outrage to Facebook, the post was shared and liked 54 times. It also received 74 comments, some being from other angry parents within the Eastbourne community, expressing their disgust as they too received the same letter, branding their infants overweight and in some cases, very underweight.
The idea of the Change 4 Life scheme is to urge parents to consider a healthy lifestyle for their youngsters. It offers awareness, tips and helplines to help parents find their way through the complex layers of advice on offer and bring their children up as part of the self-aware generation.
The scheme is administered by Kent Community Health which is a branch of the NHS. We gave them the opportunity to comment but they refused.