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Parents told to check child obesity

Parents are to be directed to an internet site to check whether their child is obese under new government plans.

The results of primary school tests which record the height and weight of five and 10-year-olds will now be sent to homes, and mums and dads will be able to check the data online.

The letters will also suggest changing a child's diet or getting more exercise, and also point families towards local health services if the problem is pronounced.

Currently, parents have to ask schools to send them details about their child's height and weight, but the new rules mean parents will automatically get the results unless they opt out.

Recent figures have shown that 10% of girls and 8% of boys under the age of 20 are chronically overweight.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "We want to ensure that parents are aware of the options available to them so that they can take responsibility for choosing the most suitable ways to support their child in achieving a healthy weight.

"We hope that the provision of this information will prompt a conversation in families about healthy lifestyles and weight issues, helping them to understand the importance of healthy weight for their family, and supporting them to make lifestyle changes or take appropriate action accordingly."

Department of Health

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"I find it really difficult to bring up the subject if I am seeing the child for something but I do notice time and time again, the parents are also overweight. What they think is normal is really not. I don't think having an internet site is going to be any good, those who are motivated are probably not the ones who need to look at it" - Name and address supplied

"Yes, parents need to take responsibility for the health of their families. Obesity is causing an increasing drain on primary care resources that could easily be addressed in the home and at school. There are also quality-of-life issues associated with obesity that can be improved by weight management" - Name and address supplied

"I am sure a large proportion of parents do not know enough about nutrition. We now have second and third generations brought up on convenience and junk foods. People's priorities are wrong and they don't have time to cook proper nutritious meals or take their children out to play and exercise. Children copy their parents" - Name and address supplied

"Unfortunately parents need educating as well as their children about the right nutritional input and exercise, so lets see the DH provide centres to help with this" - Tina Harries, Australia

"This is all very well, but I would suspect that most parents who have children who are overweight, already recognise they have a problem. We live in the real world where it is a nightmare for parents and the overweight child at this time of year (and Easter) when sweets and chocolate litter the supermarkets and shops. Maybe manufacturers could assist by making more sweets which are lower in sugar, or putting the emphasis on smaller bars of chocolate. I am not removing all responsibility from parents, I just think that producers of such temptations could be more imaginative" - Name and address supplied

"Obesity is part of the story, but activity levels are also important. Since late 2006, researchers found that some children in the Gateshead Millennium Study (born 1999/2000) weren't doing as much activity in seven days as they should in one day!" - Name and address supplied

"Tree climbing can be good exercise for children harvesting fruits. Fruits are low in calories and highly nutritional and they could be grown in public places to help fight the increasing trend in obesity. In Brazil we are suggesting an increase in the number of fruit trees in the public areas, changing our country to a large tropical orchard. Then, sidewalks, squares, parks, roadsides will be full of free fruits bearing the most delicious and appropriate food to fight obesity" - Name and address supplied"

Good communication and information sharing isn't something new. Shouldn't this have been done years ago? Let's hope the parents of these chilren get the help and support they need to encourage a heathly lifestyle" - Karen Carpanini, South Wales