Primary school children should not be routinely screened for obesity

Primary school children should not be routinely screened for obesity and overweight in the absence of effective treatment, finds research in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

At present, 4 to 5 and 10 to 11 year olds are weighed at school and the anonymised information fed into the National Childhood Obesity Database as part of a monitoring programme.

New government guidance was issued earlier this month to ensure that 80% of these age groups are weighed this school year.

But in its 2004 report on obesity, the parliamentary Health Select Committee recommended that all schoolchildren effectively be screened.

They should be routinely weighed, the results fed back to parents, and overweight and obese children offered specialist treatment, it said.

But there is little evidence to show that preventive approaches or current treatments actually drive down children's obesity in the long term, say the authors.

When they systematically assessed the published and unpublished evidence on the effectiveness of either weight monitoring or screening for picking up and treating obesity, they found none.

Instead, the research focused on the accuracy of weight monitoring for diagnosis. And few studies had been done on the attitudes of parents, children, or healthcare professionals to it.

Weight monitoring is useful for gathering information on obesity trends and informing how money should be spent, say the authors. And it could also be useful for assessing the impact of school initiatives to improve children's diets and lifestyles.

"However, the value of moving from population [weight] monitoring to screening to identify and treat individual children remains at best questionable," they say.

"The effectiveness of treatment is currently doubtful and the potential harms of either monitoring or screening are poorly researched," they conclude.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.

You might also like...
Accurate adiposity measurements key to tackling obesity-related diseases, study finds