Figures from PHE’s National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) show that childhood obesity has risen for the second year running in reception year children (aged four-five years), with the average British child leaving primary school half a stone heavier than a generation ago.
Campaigns to educate and reduce sugar and calorie intake in children from a young age are in full swing.
Leading parenting resource Families Online (www.familiesonline.co.uk) has prompted a nationwide debate among its parenting audience recently on whether or not children should be weighed in a bid to combat spiraling obesity levels and asks if it is ethical and what impact might stepping on the scales have on a child’s future development.
The majority of parents responded to say they don’t agree with regularly weighing children but research shows that children who are overweight or obese are more likely to suffer at the hands of bullies or face low self-esteem issues in the future.
Mum of three, Karen Phillips told Families Online: “I think as a parent you should be fully in control of what your child eats and if you feel they are becoming overweight, you can tweak their diet without even making it an issue.
“Your child doesn’t need regular weigh-ins but just to be provided with better food choices and more opportunities to be outside running around in the fresh air.”
Recent headlines from the Office for National Statistics have suggested that British adults eat 50 per cent more calories than they need every day, so many parents believe that combatting obesity is about setting the right example in terms of eating habits for your children to follow as well as having a balance.
Another brave parent took to the Families Online Facebook page to share how being weighed as a child affected her and why she thinks weighing your child is a huge mistake.
She said: “My mum and nan weighed me as a child and it has scarred me for life.
“I now refuse to own a set of scales and I will not let my own children use them. I’ve still ended up with a weight problem and I can’t tell you how degrading and emotionally damaging it was and how ‘picked on’ I felt by those who should love me regardless.
“Of course, my mum and nan didn’t do this maliciously at all but the impact this has on a developing young mind cannot be underestimated.”
Another parent called for families to keep track of what children eat.
Most parents told Families Online that they were in support of keeping track of their child’s diet and wellbeing regularly but on the whole, the majority don’t believe that stepping on the scales is the answer and that some parents need to take more ownership of what their children eat.