After receiving a letter labeling her daughter five years old as overweight, a mother has criticized health officials.

Jemma Fletcher (37), was sent a note from Sheffield Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, after Lily’s tests revealed that she had a higher than average weight.

Visiting nurses had measured the little girl and weighed her at school. 

Sheffield South Yorkshire woman Mrs Fletcher stated that Lily was overweight. It is shocking and disturbing.

Jemma Fletcher, 37, received the letter from Sheffield Children's Hospital NHS Foundation Trust after her little girl Lily was weighed at school by visiting nurses

Jemma Fletcher (37) received the letter form Sheffield Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. The letter was sent after Lily’s weight at school.

“There is nothing on her. She is tiny. My family all said, “Don’t be worried about it. It’s only a letter. We all know that she’s not obese.”

I know that she isn’t obese, but it is possible for parents who are struggling to put their child on a diet. 

You have plenty to worry about, mum.

“What if you were someone without that support, and had worries and anxiety about your children?” They could easily have been pushed over the edge by this letter.

“It is hard enough as it is, there are enough expectations on you to appear a certain way. It could give children a lot of trouble at young ages.

Lily's mother Jemma Fletcher, 37, said: 'There's nothing on her, she's tiny. My family were all like, "don't worry about it, it's just a letter, we all know she's not overweight."'

Jemma Fletcher (37), Lily’s mom, stated that there was nothing about her daughter, as she is small. My family was all in agreement that it was merely a letter and she isn’t overweight.

These tests were performed by the NHS at schools across October in part of a National Child Measurement Programme, (NCMP). 

Mrs Fletcher received a letter stating that Lily was 114.9cm high and weighed 24.6kg. She is thus classified as “overweight”.

A 12-week program of healthy living was offered to Lily for free. It suggested that she make’simple lifestyle changes’ to increase her activity, even though Lily is healthy and fit.

Ms Fletcher, however, has asked for more personalisation of letters by the NHS and less reliance on stats.

She said, “I am not disagreeing with this letter. But what I am saying to you is they should have personalization.” It’s okay to send letters to children. But, personalize it to the child.

“Had it been better explained in the correspondence it may not have caused as much anxiety and upset.

“Somebody puts numbers in a computer. Then they send the letters to the family.

National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) is a program that allows children to be weighed at school in Year Six and Reception. It will then be used for calculating their BMI.

This figure can be reached by comparing the weight of a child with their age and height.

After the BMI has been calculated, the child is placed into one of the following four groups: underweight, very overweight, healthy weight or overweight. 

Ms Fletcher was 'disgusted' and slammed the NHS letter, saying it could fuel mental health issues such as anxiety and stress in youngsters and parents

Ms Fletcher was ‘disgusted’ and slammed the NHS letter, saying it could fuel mental health issues such as anxiety and stress in youngsters and parents

What’s the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP)? 

To assess the obesity level in primary schools, NCMP measures height and weight in children who are in Reception (aged 4 to 5 years) and in year 6.

Data can be used locally and nationally to plan and deliver services for children.  

This programme is in keeping with the Government’s Strategy to Combat Obesity and To:

  • Informed local planning and delivery services for children
  • To analyze trends in obesity, gather population-level information
  • Increase professional and public understanding of the weight issues faced by children
  • Assist families with weight-related issues and healthy lifestyles by being a conduit for communication

To calculate the Body Mass Index (BMI), centile, heights and weights of individuals are taken and measured. School-trained healthcare professionals supervise the measurement process.

 Source: NCPM

Around one fifth of children in Reception are obese or overweight, and that number increases to one third in sixth grade.

According to the NHS, parents are informed about which category their child is in. This allows them and their families to better plan and deliver health care for their children.

Frau Fletcher lives together with her 36-year-old husband Toby and Amelia (7 years). She thinks the ‘one size fits most’ approach is an error.

“I know Lily does enough. She’s not obese.” Although she’s taller than her peers, it’s not unusual for her to be so. It’s her genetics that I am 5’7 while her father is 6’2.

“She is very active. She rides her bicycle all the time and runs around. She wears size 5/6 or 4-5 clothes, which is perfect for her age.

“I would like the letters to be more personal and tied to past measurements. Not just what they compare to the national average.

“There will be children who are obese, but it could be due to a medical condition, such as medication.

“Rather than sending a generic letter to every child, parents should consider all aspects of the letter.”

Greg Fell is Sheffield’s director for public health. He said that the NCMP was a valuable program which provides important information about the wellbeing and health of the children who live in the city.

“I feel completely satisfied that the program adheres to national guidelines, in order monitor overweight and obese at a population-level. The programme does not aim to offend or disturb, rather it is designed to assist families with their attempts to live healthy lives.