Does this boy look overweight? Furious mother is told her football-loving son, four, is dangerously heavy by an NHS childhood obesity programme
- Mica Pullen’s son Harley Gardner was weighed at school in a nationwide scheme
- Was sent a letter saying the results ‘suggest your child is overweight’
- Harley, who weighs 3st 7lbs son and is 3ft 6in tall, plays sports every week
A furious mother has released a picture of her sporty four-year-old son ‘flexing his muscles’ after NHS staff warned he was carrying dangerous amount of weight.
Mica Pullen’s son Harley Gardner was weighed at school as part of the NHS National Child Measurement Programme.
The 29-year-old was then sent a letter warning the results ‘suggest your child is overweight’ and that this could lead to health problems.
Ms Pullen, of Preston, Lancashire, claims her 3st 7lbs (22.2kg) son, who is 3ft 6in (106.6cm) tall, practices boxing with his father every night, plays football once a week and eats healthily.
‘It seems to me he’s been considered overweight by a computer as opposed to a doctor,’ she said.
Furious mother Mica Pullen released the above picture of her sporty four-year-old son Harley Gardner ‘flexing his muscles’ after an NHS obesity assessment said he was overweight
Ms Pullen (pictured with Harley) claims her 3st 7lbs (22.2kg) son, who is 3ft 6in (106.6cm) tall, practices boxing every night, plays football once a week and eats healthily. After receiving the news, she ‘started to doubt’ whether she was raising him well and is ‘angry’ she felt like that
A child’s weight is measured by dividing their weight in kilograms by the square of their height in metres to create their BMI. This is then compared to a reference sample of measurements known as percentiles.
Obesity among children is defined as being in the 95th percentile, while those who are overweight are in the 85th percentile.
Percentiles compare youngsters to others their same age. For example, if a three-month-old is in the 40th percentile for weight, that means that 40 per cent of three-month-olds weigh the same or less than that baby.
The NHS National Child Measurement Programme measures the height and weight of children in Reception and then again in year six (10-to-11 year olds) to create a picture of overweight and obesity rates across UK primary schools.
Although parents can opt for their child not to take part, the data is used to support local public health initiatives.
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Speaking of the results, Ms Pullen, who owns a clothes shop, said: ‘I couldn’t believe what I was reading when I got the letter, Harley is anything but overweight.
‘He boxes, plays football, does after school activities, he never stops.
‘I live a healthy lifestyle by eating well and going to the gym and I try my best to pass that on to him. It’s upsetting to then be told you’re doing something wrong.’
Harley is the average height for a four-year-old boy in the UK but weighs more than the average 2st 10lb (17.2kg). It is unclear what percentile he was in.
Ms Pullen claims her son comes from a family of large men. His grandfather is the former heavyweight boxer John L Gardner, who won the British, Commonwealth, and European championships in the 1970s and 80s.
‘It seems to me he’s been considered overweight by a computer as opposed to a doctor,’ she said. ‘It’s like they’ve just put his height and weight into a system, and it has come back that he’s overweight.’
‘I started to doubt myself when I read the letter and I felt like I needed reassurance that I wasn’t doing something wrong. I am angry I have been made to feel that way.’
Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, which carried out the assessment, has been approached for comment.
Harley (pictured left and right with his brother Freddie, six) was weighed at school as part of the NHS National Child Measurement Programme. Ms Pullen was sent a letter with the results. Harley is average height for a four-year-old boy but weighs more than most
WHAT IS OBESITY? AND WHAT ARE ITS HEALTH RISKS?
Obesity is defined as an adult having a BMI of 30 or over.
A healthy person’s BMI – calculated by dividing weight in kg by height in metres, and the answer by the height again – is between 18.5 and 24.9.
Among children, obesity is defined as being in the 95th percentile.
Percentiles compare youngsters to others their same age.
For example, if a three-month-old is in the 40th percentile for weight, that means that 40 per cent of three-month-olds weigh the same or less than that baby.
Around 58 per cent of women and 68 per cent of men in the UK are overweight or obese.
The condition costs the NHS around £6.1billion, out of its approximate £124.7 billion budget, every year.
This is due to obesity increasing a person’s risk of a number of life-threatening conditions.
Such conditions include type 2 diabetes, which can cause kidney disease, blindness and even limb amputations.
Research suggests that at least one in six hospital beds in the UK are taken up by a diabetes patient.
Obesity also raises the risk of heart disease, which kills 315,000 people every year in the UK – making it the number one cause of death.
Carrying dangerous amounts of weight has also been linked to 12 different cancers.
This includes breast, which affects one in eight women at some point in their lives.
Among children, research suggests that 70 per cent of obese youngsters have high blood pressure or raised cholesterol, which puts them at risk of heart disease.
Obese children are also significantly more likely to become obese adults.
And if children are overweight, their obesity in adulthood is often more severe.
As many as one in five children start school in the UK being overweight or obese, which rises to one in three by the time they turn 10.
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