Top eating disorders blogger backs Milton Keynes mum's protest about children being weighed at school
The mum spoke out after her sporty eight-year-old was branded obese
Top blogger and eating disorder campaigner Cara Lisette has supported a local mum who wants to see the government's school weigh-in programme scrapped.
Cara Lisette read the Citizen story about how MK mum Stuetina Avery Hawkins received a letter saying her daughter had been weighed at school and was recorded as 'obese' according to government calculations.
Sienna, aged eight, read the letter before her mum could stop her - and, more than a year on, is still suffering from low self-esteem as a result.
Her mum described how the youngster asks to skip meals and even said she wanted to giving up playing her favourite sport of football because she's worried about how she looks in her kit.
“Sienna is a little chunky but is tall and incredibly active," she said.
"She is bigger for her age but has been through a growth spurt and she’s always been big-boned. She wears 10 to 11-year-olds’ clothing because she is tall.
"A better approach is needed — finding out how active a child is, what sports they play and what they eat, before simply looking at a BMI table and labelling a little girl. Each child is different."
Cara, who has more than 30,000 followers on Twitter, has suffered with anorexia herself and is passionate about preventing eating disorders.
Her book The Eating Disorder Recovery Journal has just been published on Amazon.
She Tweeted in response to the Citizen story: "Schools should not be weighing children. They’re not health professionals and they offer zero support (either practical or emotional) after doing so, and there’s no evidence it has any positive impact on wellbeing and plenty that children experience it as negative."
She added: "Nobody has to have them! Anybody can refuse and I think everybody should, they do so much more harm than good. Children don’t need to know how much they weigh."
Cara's body image issues began at primary school.
“I remember being seven or eight and being really aware of how much space I took up, comparing myself to other children,” she says.
When she went to a much bigger secondary school, Cara found the negative comparisons happening more and more.
“Then my parents separated, which tipped me over the edge.”
Meanwhile, little Sienna, thanks to support from her family, is back playing football and has even set up her own under 10s girls football team called MK City Topaz.
"We are trying to empower her and assure her that she is strong and beautiful," said her mum.
She has called for the government to stop the school weigh-ins, which happen in Reception and Year 6. She does not blame the schools as they are simply following orders from Public Health England. The school nurse service performs the weigh-ins rather than the staff of the school.
"Weighing children when they are so young is just storing up problems with eating disorders," she says.
The weighting programme is part of the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP).
The data can be used nationally to support local public health initiatives, and locally to inform the planning and delivery of services for children. The programme is recognised internationally as a world-class source of public health intelligence and holds UK National Statistics status.
The programme was set up in line with the government's strategy to tackle obesity.
Heights and weights are measured and used to calculate a Body Mass Index (BMI) centile. The measurement process is overseen by trained healthcare professionals in schools.