Lancashire mum: How dare the NHS say my boy is overweight?

A Preston mother was left furious after health chiefs branded her '˜fit and sporty' four-year-old son as overweight.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 10th December 2018, 6:36 pm
Updated Tuesday, 11th December 2018, 11:35 am
Mica Pullen and her son Harley
Mica Pullen and her son Harley

Mica Pullen, 29, from Broughton, allowed her little boy, Harley, to be weighed as part of the NHS National Child Measurement Programme.

But she was shocked and upset when she received a letter saying Harley, who is a pupil at St Mary’s and St Andrew’s Catholic Primary School in Barton was classed as overweight for his age, sex and height.

He was estimated at 3ft 6in height and three stone and five ounces in weight.

Mica, who has another son Freddie, six, who goes to the same school, says she considers her son anything but overweight.

She says she was so surprised she posted the message on Facebook and was flooded with people offering their support and expressing their outrage.

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She said: “I started to doubt myself and I needed some reassurance.

“I put his picture up on Facebook and had thousands of responses saying he is not overweight at all and expressing disbelief.

“It seems to me this is down to technology.

“Instead of a nurse looking at my son it seems as though his height and weight have just been programmed in to a system and it has come back that he is overweight due to technology rather than human assessment.

“He is a happy and healthy boy and is very fit and sporty.

“He boxes with his dad on a night and plays football.

“A healthy diet is part of our lives and I make sure he eats healthily.

“I started to doubt myself when I read the letter and I felt like I needed reassurance that I wasn’t doing something wrong. But I am angry that I have been made to feel that way. I was pleased to get the support of so many parents on the Facebook page but I shouldn’t have to be looking for reassurance and made to feel insecure.

“The effect on me and my family has been ridiculous.

“My son is a very happy boy and is in good health.”

The letter states Harley may be at risk of ill health in the future if he does not lose weight.

A spokesperson for Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust said: “As part of the National Child Measurement Programme, children within primary schools are routinely weighed and measured at school as part of an assessment of their overall health.

“Data from measurements is used to inform the planning and delivery of services and helps health professionals to engage with families about healthy lifestyles. We are aware of an issue that has been recently raised by a parent and this is being looked into by the service currently.

“Whilst the Trust is unable to comment any further on individual cases we do welcome feedback in order to improve the services we provide. If any member of a pupil’s family is concerned with their child’s results, the Trust can offer support and guidance where needed.”

Facts and figures

One in five primary school children in Preston are obese.Every year officials measure the height and weight of more than one million children to assess childhood obesity. Children’s BMI is measured differently to adults and age and gender is taken in to consideration.The Government works out obesity using the 1990 British growth reference chart, a large collection of statistics used to determine a child’s body mass index (BMI).It defines a child as obese if their BMI is in the charts top five per cent, and overweight if they are in the top 15 per cent.The data shows that children often develop weight problems while at primary school.Obesity can lead to a number of health problems later in life including type two2 diabetes as well as psychological issues such as low self esteem and depression.In 2017 -18 just 10 per cent of Preston’s children were obese in Reception class.Across England one in five pupils in year six was obese.