Birmingham Public Health dietician Eleanor McGee reflects on reports that many parents are unaware their children are overweight.
Not for the first time in recent years, childhood obesity is in the news, with today’s headlines focussing on reports that parents hardly ever spot obesity in their children.
The reports go onto state that: “Modern parents don’t recognise children as obese and if parents don’t recognise a child is obese then they’re very unlikely to do anything to help their child move to a more healthy weight.”
Now of course nobody wants to hear that their child is overweight and it can be hard to accept there’s a problem.
But, here in Birmingham we run children’s healthy weight programmes across the city, and I have to say our experience is that parents are increasingly willing to both accept the problem and, more importantly, accept help to do something about it.
We run two programmes:
First Steps offers group sessions and individual appointments to the parents of children aged 5-11 years. This six-week programme provides supports parents to make healthy lifestyle choices, by providing information on healthy eating and exercise, as well as with tips and ideas on how to motivate their children and the whole family. It also provides parents with information on local physical activity opportunities. Programmes are available throughout Birmingham and are run by our specialist/fully trained Children’s Weight Management Advisors. Sessions are held mainly during the day with some after school sessions available.
Next Steps is a 12 week programme for children aged 12-16 years. This programme includes a weekly multi-sports sessions alongside group education sessions and opportunities for individual appointments. Programmes are available throughout Birmingham and are run by our specialist Children’s Weight Management Advisors. Sessions mainly take place on weekdays after school but some weekend sessions are available.
The programmes help children, parents and the whole family to set goals, make healthier food choices and be more active.
They were developed in the knowledge that families need support and ideas in order to change habits. Sessions are fun, interactive and non-judgmental. Most importantly they are effective: participants lose weight.
On the whole we find that Birmingham families recognise the issue of overweight children, certainly more so than just a few years ago, and they are receptive to the help and advice on offer.
So let’s give parents a break. Many do recognise the problem and are then willing to take action.
How to get a place on a weight management programme
The First Steps and Next Steps Programmes take place throughout the city and are open to children:
- With a body mass index (BMI) above the 91st percentile (If you do not know your child’s BMI we can work it out for you as long as we have their weight and height measurements).
- Who are registered with a Birmingham GP
- Who have the ability to work through the programme
- Who can commit to attending the full programme
Referrals are accepted from any health professional or family member. Call 0121 446 1021 for more information and to complete the form over the phone with a member of the Children’s Weight Management team.
Alternatively, you can download the children’s weight management referral form and either email or post it back to us. (Details on the referral form)