A mum-of-two has been left "disgusted" after she received a "shocking" letter from health officials which labelled her five-year-old daughter as overweight.
Jemma Fletcher, 37, said she received the "upsetting" letter from Sheffield Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust which recommended that her daughter Lily becomes more active after nurses visited her school.
The mum from Sheffield has since slammed the NHS for their letter and said the letters could have a severe impact on both parents and their children's mental health.
She said her daughter is "tiny" and has called for letters to be more personalised to prevent giving "a child a complex at a young age.”
Jemma said: "I know she’s not overweight, but if you’re a parent who’s struggling, you could take it and put your child on a diet. You’ve got enough to worry about as a mum.
“What if I was someone who didn’t have that support and was suffering with anxiety and worries about their children anyway? This letter could have quite easily pushed them over the edge."
The tests were carried out by the NHS in schools in October as part of a National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP).
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The youngster’s height and weight were measured to find the child's Body Mass Index (BMI) and then compared to the national average.
In the letter, Jemma was told that Lily is 114.9cm tall and weighs 24.6kg, which is classed as ‘overweight’.
The letter goes on to offer a free 12-week healthy lifestyle programme and suggested she encourage her daughter to "make simple changes to be more active", despite already being fit and healthy.
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The National Child Measurement Programme is a scheme that sees children in Reception and Year Six weighed and measured at school. This will be used to calculate their BMI.
The figure is reached by comparing a child’s weight with their age, height and sex.
Once the BMI is calculated, the child will be placed in one of four categories – underweight, healthy weight, overweight or very overweight.
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But Jemma, who also lives with husband Toby, 36, and older daughter Amelia, 7, believes the ‘one size fits all’ approach is wrong.
She added: “I know Lily does enough, she’s not overweight. She’s a bit tall for her age, but we’re tall. I’m 5’7 and her dad is 6’2, it’s in her genes.
“She’s very active, she’s always on her bike and running round, she’s in size 4-5 or 5-6 clothes which is right for her age.
“I’d like to see the letters be more individual and linked to the past measurements, not just what they are compared to the national average."
Greg Fell, Sheffield’s director of public health, said: “The NCMP is a hugely valuable programme which helps provide important information relating to the health and wellbeing of children living in the city.
“I am entirely satisfied that the programme follows national guidance in order to monitor overweight and obesity at a population level. It does not intend to cause offence or upset but to support families in their efforts to lead a healthy lifestyle.”
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