Parents' Opinions On Weight Loss
According to government data, 1 in 3 children in England are leaving primary school overweight. In response, the government has set up The National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) which measures the height and weight of over one million children in Reception (age 4-5 years) and Year 6 (age 10-11 years) each year in primary schools in England.
Since being introduced the programme has faced backlash, with some parents feeling judged or even ashamed after being told their child is overweight.
This has also been paired with concerns over the increases in children with disordered eating since the Covid Pandemic.
The waiting times for children and young people in need of help due to eating disorders are alarmingly high as highlighted in the CYP ED data, with both urgent and routine referrals almost doubling in recent years.
This not only shows the impact negative messaging surrounding food can have on children, but that now more than ever it's important to portray a positive message to children around health and nutrition.
With the sensitive nature of weight management in children, Chemist4U has approached parents to discover their opinion on the programme as well as overall attitudes towards health and fitness in children.
How do parents feel about their children being monitored by the NCMP?
When asked how they feel about their child being monitored by the NCMP, 35.3% of the parents stated feeling happy with this.
However the remaining top responses are all significantly less positive towards the programme with 30.5% agreeing that children's weight management is a personal/family matter and not a public matter. This is followed by 17.3% of parents saying that they feel uncomfortable with the plans to monitor their children.
In fact, 4% of parents admitted to feeling angry that their children would be monitored as part of the NCMP programme.
This could feed into the fact 7.5% of the parents have already or are planning to remove their children from the scheme entirely.
How confident are parents that their children are getting the right amount of exercise from activities?
When asked how confident parents feel that their child is getting the correct amounts of exercise, the overwhelming majority felt confident in their child's activity levels.
42.2% of parents are very confident and 39.4% are somewhat confident showing that lack of exercise in children is not a concern faced by parents. In fact, only 1% of parents said they felt very unconfident with the amount their child exercises.
According to their parents, how many hours of exercise/physical activity, on average, are their children doing a day?
With parents confident that their children are getting enough exercise, that leaves the question, what is enough exercise for a child?
And how many children are getting the recommended amount of physical activity?
The majority of parents, 54.2%, informed that their children do around 1-2 hours' worth of exercise each day.
This is in line with the NHS physical activity guidelines for children that suggest at least 60 minutes a day as the recommended amount of physical activity for a young person.
How hard or easy, is it for parents to ensure that their children are eating the right balanced diet?
Despite the majority of parents being confident in their child's physical activity levels, when it comes to ensuring a healthy and balanced diet many parents are less confident in ensuring this is maintained.
42.9% of parents agreed that it is hard to ensure children are eating the right food and having a healthy balanced diet.
However, despite many finding it challenging, 30.5% of parents find it easy to manage their children's diet and ensure they eat a balanced meal.
How concerned are parents about their children being exposed to weight loss advertising?
The vast majority of parents are concerned to some extent about their children being exposed to weight loss advertisements.
With growing concern around disordered eating, especially among children, it's key to ensure any weight-loss advertising is monitored closely.
In fact, a study has shown that adolescents exposed to weight loss messaging are more likely to develop disordered eating.
Whilst it is key to ensure children have a healthy and balanced diet, it is also important to consider the tone behind this.
Children should be supported, not shamed, when it comes to delicate topics such as weight loss.
Chemist4u asked 1000 parents of children aged 17 and under how they feel about the governments National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) which measures the height and weight of over one million children in Reception (age 4-5 years) and Year 6 (age 10-11 years) each year in primary schools in England.
Parents were also asked if they think their children are getting enough exercise each day and how easy or difficult it is to ensure their child eats a balanced diet.