Furious mum slams school after daughter, 4, is branded OVERWEIGHT by staff
A FUMING mum has slammed school health bosses for branding her healthy little girl overweight – despite being aged just four and weighing less than three stone.
Vegetarian mum-of-two Ariel Marsden, 25, was horrified when she received the “insensitive” letter from NHS East Sussex School Health service saying her daughter was too fat.
The letter warned the four-year-old may face “low self-esteem and poor confidence” for being heavier than other children her age leaving her at risk of eating disorders.
Photographs show Belle as a healthy, confident little girl who loves riding her bike, playing outside and helping her mum make fresh fruit smoothies.
Belle weighed 18.8kg during her school weigh-in earlier this month.
The letter claimed three out of four schoolchildren of the same age were of a healthier weight than Belle.
Ariel, from Hastings, said: “Belle is so happy. That’s what upset me because she shouldn’t have a label already. She’s only four.
“She doesn’t have a care in the world at the moment. They shouldn’t be worrying about their weight at this age.
“It’s the self-esteem and confidence thing that really annoyed me. I thought that was very upsetting to hear.
WHAT’S A HEALTHY WEIGHT FOR YOUR CHILD?
For years, doctors have used height and weight measureements to calculate how much body fat a person has and be able to assess a child’s physical growth in relation to other kids the same age.
The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a tool that helps health officials determine how appropriate a child’s weight is for a certain height, age and gender.
According to kidshealth.org, kids who measure at 85-95 per cent on the BMI chart are considered overeight.
“I don’t want her to be thinking about her weight at her age. It just worries me if older children are getting these letters and reading them.
“She’s too young to be reading it herself but if I got a letter like that and I was a teenager I don’t think it would have affected me very well.
“It’s a shame, really, and frustrating too.
“I felt really cross when I opened it.
“I’m going to do everything in my power to not let Belle’s confidence be affected.
“I think the main thing to do is to not comment on their weight and if she does become overweight then we will just go out more and do more activity together.
“It makes me question my parenting. It makes me wonder if I’m doing something wrong.
The family had never been worried about Belle’s weight before and Ariel claims she always expected her daughter to be tall for her age due to her 6ft 3in father.
But the letter, dated October 18, said: “Belle is in the minority of children across the country who are overweight or very overweight for their age.
“Three out of four children in Reception Year have a healthier weight than Belle.
“It is important to be aware that when a child has excess weight for their age it can lead to health problems like high blood pressure and early signs of type 2 diabetes as they grow up.
“Being overweight can also lead to low self-esteem and poor confidence.”
Ariel added: “We eat healthily. We always have fruit and that’s what she snacks on apart from on a Friday when we will have a film on and eat chocolate and things.
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Julie Caddock, community services manager for East Sussex School Health, said: “We’d like to apologise if this letter caused any offence.
“We know sometimes it’s very difficult to tell what a healthy weight looks like and that weight is a very sensitive issue. This is part of a national programme by Public Health England to tackle national obesity rates and support families to make healthier choices.
“The information is shared in confidence with parents and it is their decision on how to act on or share the information. It is never intended to label a child, but to provide support and advice to families about healthy lifestyles.”
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