A mum who is a Slimming World consultant has slammed health chiefs after they said her healthy five-year-old son was FAT.
Gemma Bateman, 32, was shocked when she was warned her son Casey had fallen into the ‘overweight’ bracket after having his height and weight measured.
The results came during a controversial Government-run health assessment at primary school in a bid to crackdown on childhood obesity.
Sports-mad Casey, who is 112cm (3.6ft) and weighs 23.3kg (3.6 stone), was classed as fat despite going swimming, dancing and kick-boxing every week.
The youngster, who attends Warren Hill Primary School in Nottingham, was measured for his height and weight last month.
The results showed his BMI put him in the top percentile for children of his age.
Mrs Bateman, 32, of Top Valley, Notts., said: “The letter said he is overweight for his age, height and sex and that’s it.
“I was angry and upset when I read the letter. I haven’t contacted the council because I was so angry. He is quite broad for his age, but it is muscle, not fat.
“I am really conscious of the whole family having a healthy lifestyle. We tried Casey out at quite a few sports and activities until he found ones he likes.
“He swims, dances and goes to kick-boxing classes and loves it. You can see just by looking at him that he is not overweight.”
Mrs Bateman said her husband Matthew, who works in production for Toyota, was also furious with the letter.
She added: “He is really angry. He just said it was a load of rubbish.
“The school haven’t told Casey the results, we have just been sent a letter, but I don’t think it’s right to brand a five-year-old as overweight – it’s irresponsible.”
Mrs Bateman became a Slimming World consultant earlier this year after losing four-and-a-half stone in just nine months.
She went from 15 stone 13lbs to 11 stone 3lbs and dropped four dress sizes. She was inspired to lose weight after seeing a picture of herself looking overweight on holiday.
As a result of her incredible weight loss, she was recruited by Slimming World to be a consultant helping others shed the pounds.
She added: “What is really galling is that if anyone should know about a healthy diet, it’s me. I always make sure all of us eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly.
“These tests are misleading and not helpful. They are actually quite dangerous and could give children body issues.
“What would worry me is that some parents might read these letters and be so worried that they starve their children.
“You only have to look at Casey to know he’s fit and healthy. You can’t just measure fitness on weight and height. It’s an antiquated system which doesn’t give you the whole picture.”
Alison Challenger, director of public health at Nottingham City Council, said: “The
National Child Measurement Programme is carried out in all schools across the country and aims to inform parents about healthy weight and highlight where support might be needed.
“The programme is run by the Government and is in line with our approach to tackling obesity in children.
“The measurements are benchmarked against nationally-agreed parameters.
“It’s never anyone’s intention to cause upset or alarm, but simply to show parents where help is available.
“Guidance is offered, if required, through the Healthy Weight Support Programme and includes advice on diet and exercise.
“Almost four in ten pupils are leaving primary school in Nottingham overweight and this can lead to a number of health problems, both now and in later life.
“What children eat and drink, plus how active they are, is vitally important. We urge parents in the city to work with us, schools and health services to support our children to be as healthy as possible.”
The National Child Measurement Programme was launched in 2006 to tackle the rise of childhood obesity in Britain.
Every child in reception (aged four and five) and year six (age ten and 11) have their height and weight measured during the school year.
The information gained from the programme allows for the planning and delivery of services in the area so local authorities can understand more about healthy lifestyles and weight issues in the area, and particularly in schools.
It has become a contentious topic for debate between parents, schools, charities and politicians.
However, the charity Children’s Food Trust believes the Government should be weighing children more, not less, in a bid to tackle childhood obesity.
Linda Cregan, chief executive of the charity, said: “We need to be tracking children’s weight more closely, not less.
“Our health system monitors babies’ weight so carefully because it’s such an important indicator of their health.
“But as children get older, that proactive contact on their nutrition and weight gets less.
“That simply can’t be right, in a country where our nutrition has become so poor that we’re having to draw up a national childhood obesity strategy.”