05/04/2018 09:49 BST | Updated 05/04/2018 09:49 BST

Should You Weigh Your Child?

I agree that something needs to be done about the rising level of obesity in young people but this isn’t going to be solved by shoving children onto the scales

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Well, should you? I’m pretty sure I can hear a resounding “NO” from most parents out there and for good reason. In fact, according to the ‘should you weigh your child?’ debate that Families Online recently prompted, most of the parents who responded said they did not agree with weighing their children for a variety of reasons.

I must admit my first reaction was that no, we should certainly not be making our children step on the scales. I have a friend who recently received a letter home from school advising her that her daughter was deemed to be overweight at the ripe old age of five! Both she and I were horrified by the suggestion. Five years of age seems far too young to be worrying about what you do or don’t weigh, but according to the PHE’s national child measurement programme, obesity has risen for the second year running in four to five year olds. Not only that, but the average British child is now leaving primary school half a stone heavier than the previous generation.

It seems the current climate is completely preoccupied with size. That said, I do understand that the Government has a responsibility to make sure the general public are educated sufficiently to enable them to make good choices when choosing the healthiest food for their child. Obviously obesity has risen in recent years with the increase in non-active pastimes for children i.e. computer and handheld games being the main culprits.

I also believe that sadly, it is sometimes far cheaper to feed children with unhealthy carbs like an own brand white loaf than it is to buy some gorgeous juicy fresh fruit. With the numbers of families now having to use food banks, poverty could also be a valid reason for the increase in childhood obesity.

I personally have never weighed my child other than the mandatory check-ups done by the health visitor. I have to say that these had me holding my breath because, as an admittedly overweight mum, I always worry that they will assume I will create an overweight child. This couldn’t be further from the truth! I take much greater care and put a lot more thought into what goes into my daughter’s body than my own but then I expect most parents are the same.

I don’t know any other parents that weigh their children and I certainly won’t be adopting the practice any time soon. Why would you? I think this will serve no purpose other than giving the child a complex about their weight.

I agree that something needs to be done about the rising level of obesity in young people but this isn’t going to be solved by shoving children onto the scales from as young as two years old. The thing that will bring about change is the education of parents about what to feed their children and how to do this on a budget.

With the Office for National Statistics suggesting that British adults are eating 50% more calories than they need, why not stop thinking about what the scales say and make it a family affair to choose healthier options, get out and about more and decide if and when you’re going to have the odd treat. Surely this has to be about balance and the right support not denial or regular weigh-ins. Even multi-million pound diet companies like Weight Watchers and Slimming World have a minimum age limit don’t they?

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