Parents have criticised the official methods used for measuring whether children are overweight, claiming that they run the risk of branding healthy children as too fat.
Figures released by the NHS’ National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) have revealed that one in three ten and 11 year olds in Lincolnshire are classed as overweight, while one in five are classed as obese.
But a number of parents have questioned the accuracy of the statistics, saying their perfectly normal looking children have been classed as overweight or obese by the programme.
The programme uses the Body Mass Index (BMI) method to work out how much children of a certain height should weigh.
However, doctors say BMI is not a foolproof method for telling whether someone is overweight as older people tend to have more fat than younger people, women tend to have more fat than men with an equivalent BMI and very muscular people such as athletes tend to be classed as overweight or obese when they aren’t because muscle weighs more than fat.
These factors also come into play when children are measured, but BMI is even less accurate when it measures young people as they mature at different rates and a high BMI can be as a result of body mass which isn’t fat.
One parent, Lorraine Wood sent this picture of her 10-year-old son, who was classed as overweight and on the verge of being obese when he was measured.
Lorraine said: “I really don’t think they should label perfectly healthy children in these categories.
“They just add things like height, weight and age and shove them in a box. No wonder there are so many weight issues in teenagers.”
She added: “My 10-year-old was one centile off clinically obese. He is very sporty and plays football for the school and for a league team.
“He has classic footballer’s muscular legs – muscle weighs more than fat.
“On a visit to the doctor, I asked him his opinion and he told me to bin the letter with measurements on. That’s how true these statistics are. This is my near enough clinically obese child [attached with a photo of her son].”
The NCMP measures the height and weight of children in reception class (aged four to five) and Year 6 (aged 10 to 11), to assess overweight and obesity levels in children within primary schools.
The NCMP states: “Defining children as overweight or obese is a complex process, given that their height and weight change at the same time.
“BMI is calculated by dividing their weight (in kilograms) by the square of their height (in metres).
“The method of assigning a BMI classification is different for children and adults.”