Families get the measure of overweight children

FAMILIES in Northumberland will be given extra help into a healthy lifestyle as part of an annual child measurement programme.

Parents across the county will be receiving letters in the next few weeks, telling them about their children’s height and weight.

More than 6,000 children, aged four and five, and ten and 11, have been visited at school by nurses from Northumberland Care Trust to take their measurements.

Where a child is found to be overweight, families will be offered advice about adopting a healthier lifestyle and building their children’s confidence to encourage them to be more active.

They will also receive information about programmes that could help them and a DVD has been produced, featuring local families who have already made the change to healthy living. It aims to break down the preconceptions people may have about the various support schemes.

NHS North of Tyne Public Health Consultant Dawn Scott said: “There can be many reasons for a child to fall into the overweight category.

“The National Child Measurement Programme does not aim to judge families. Its aims are two-fold. Firstly, it helps us measure the extent of the problem so we can develop services accordingly. Secondly, it provides local health services with extremely important information, which can be used to support local families to become healthier together.”

All information is treated confidentially and parents had the choice to opt out of the scheme. However, they have been encouraged to take part.

“We have had a fantastic response from parents, who have been happy for their children to take part in this national programme and welcome the support and advice offered by the local NHS,” said Ms Scott.

“More and more parents each year are saying yes to their children taking part.

“Simple height and weight measurements are easy to collect and help us understand the health profile of the children of Northumberland. We are then able to target our support to those children and their families who are overweight or are in danger of becoming overweight.

“Without help, overweight children will often continue to struggle with their weight and will be at increased risk of heart attacks, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and stroke.”

The national programme, which is run by the Department for Education and the Department of Health, is now in its sixth year and is part of the drive to encourage families to eat well, move more and live longer under the Change4Life campaign.

For details of weight management programmes contact Get Active Northumberland on 01670 394516.