Friday, December 4, 2015

Concerns about Jamie Oliver's strategy to weigh kids in school

International Eating Disorders Action members have taken action in response to the strategy put forth by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver which he claims will protect the health of British children.
Jamie Oliver demands children are weighed each year at school to end childhood obesity

Members have sent concerns via Facebook, twitter, e-mail and shared current information, data and position statements. We are insisting that they review the data and evidence before venturing into dangerous territory that is NOT recommended by any of our leading global health authorities.

The Skinny on BMI Report Cards
EDC: BMI Talking Points
Pediatrics, 2009 Nihiser: BMI in Schools
Trading Health for a Healthy Weight: Pinhas et al case series
Facts and Concerns About School-Based BMI Screening

Guidelines for Childhood Obesity Prevention Programs
Position Statement: AED Opposes BMI Reporting and Fitnessgrams in Schools

Additional articles on school-based BMI screenings:

On 2 December 2015 at 21:43, International Eating Disorder Action <iedaction.global@gmail.com> wrote:

Dear Jo,

Thank you so much for reaching out to us . I'm copying my colleague at
IEDaction Jennifer Denise Ouellette as well.

As you are aware we have been concerned about the increased focus on
working with children in schools to provide information on obesity and now
on the statement by Jamie Oliver on in school weighing. Of course we do
understand that communities and countries are concerned about the health of
their children - and that wholesome foods are important.

However we are very concerned about the approach taken to achieve impact.
Research shows that weighing kids in schools and implementing anti-obesity
and weighing kids in school can lead to INCREASED rates of obesity and
eating disorders. It can do more harm than good .

In the USA, Arkansas has done anti-obesity campaigns in schools since 2002.
It has led to increased rates of obesity and eating disorders triggered at
younger ages. The CDC does NOT recommend weighing in schools.

Kids actually NEED more Fat and calories to prep for their growth spur. And
based on longevity the optimal BMI range for an adult female is 25-29 the
current "overweight" category. So we need to be careful in designing
programs to do no harm and reflect research.

We would very much to dialogue with you - we represent a large group of
parents, carers and affected people.


Amy Cunningham
International Eating Disorder Action

On Thu, Dec 3, 2015 at 6:02 PM, Jo Creed <jo.creed@jamieoliver.org> wrote:

Dear Amy

Thanks so much for writing.  You are right which is why no-one is being blase about this and why Jamie has explicitly said that the issue needs to be tackled with great sensitivity.

We absolutely appreciate your concerns on this issue, and that it is a very sensitive issue. 

As you'll know, the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) is something that already exists and currently takes the weight and height of children as they start school and leave school. This should be done in an anonymous and confidential way. This data is hugely important in getting nationwide statistics which are then used for public health.

This data can also enable those carrying out the measurements to determine whether children have maintained a proper weight or are becoming, or have become, either overweight or underweight. While the data is logged in an anonymous way and not shared with the children or others in the school, there is a way for the school nurse to see if a child has become overweight or underweight and can therefore discreetly speak to the family in order to proactively help to address the issue. 

The NCMP as it is now devised is not there to demonise children about their weight and we would not be backing something that did. The point in Jamie's obesity strategy about expanding this programme is so that statistics can be gathered through children's school experience. Therefore it can be understood what is happening (currently in the UK 1 in 5 kids start primary school overweight or obese, and 1 in 3 leave primary school overweight or obese) and it also allows an opportunity to intervene if needed in order to support children in being the healthiest weight they can be.

We would never want to stigmatise any child or create any reason for eating disorders, but rather ensure that kids are happy and healthy.  It's clear that a lot of work needs to be done to get this right.

Best wishes,

From: Amy E Cunningham <amy.in.dar@gmail.com>
Date: 3 December 2015 at 17:20:26 CAT
To: Jo Creed <jo.creed@jamieoliver.org>
Cc: International Eating Disorder Action <iedaction.global@gmail.com>, "jdeniseouellette@gmail.com" <jdeniseouellette@gmail.com>, Peter Berry <peter.berry@jamieoliver.com>
Subject: Re: Weighing children in school
Greatly appreciate your response the opportunity to dialogue.

I understand your and Jamie's desires. Our concern is that there is no scientific evidence that what you are promoting has the desired benefit.  I'll share studies with you here - one of which shows that parents did nothing even with info and in fact children's diets did not improve.  We also know that eating disorders (which have the highest mortality rate of any psychological illness) can be triggered by inappropriately addressed school health programs.  The US Centers for Disease Control does not recommend BMI at schools.  The Academy for Eating Disorders has strong guidance and cautions for implementing programs and a wealth of data showing that weighing/BMI has no basis in the scientific literature for success.  The Eating Disorder Coalition in the US has successfully reinforced CDCs statement.

Schools and many of us are grasping for some solution to our perceived epidemic (I acknowledge there is a need to both ensure the health of our kids genetically predisposed to ED as well as obesity) however approaching it with an intuitive approach rather than data is very dangerous.  Sadly nurses and volunteers aren't well trained to address health holistically - and thus can do far more harm than good. Or at minimum nothing changes as the data suggest and that is a real waste of resources.   

I would be very interested to see any data showing that school weighing works in helping kids develop overall health.

And in working with you to develop a more holistic approach to developing and maintaining health. ​I'm attaching some documents here for your team to review.

Warm regards,Amy