Is this girl, aged 11, really obese?

Charis Roper.
Charis Roper.
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LITTLE Charis Roper loves playing out on her bike, whizzing along on her scooter, and chasing her pet dog around the garden of her Sheffield home.

But according to workers at a city health programme, the 11-year-old schoolgirl is ‘obese’.

Charis’ mum Debbie says her daughter weighs 7st 8lbs and is 4ft 7ins tall - which means that, when her age and gender are factored in, she is classed as clinically overweight.

And the youngster has been left devastated after intercepting the letter which broke the news - and bursting into tears while reading it.

Angry mum Debbie says she is now worried about the potential impact of the letter on her young daughter.

“She is a normal, healthy girl - yes, there might be a little bit of puppy fat, but that is just the time of life she is going through, her body is changing and her hormones are kicking in,” Debbie told The Star.

“Now she says she is ‘fat’ all the time and she says she can’t eat certain things because they’ve got too much fat in them.

“The granddaughter of one of my closest friends is battling anorexia and I’m worried about the damage this might have had on Charis and what it might have triggered in her head.”

The National Child Measurement Programme at NHS Sheffield takes a child’s height and weight and works out whether their ‘body mass index centile’ is at a safe level.

Debbie, aged 43, from Parson Cross, who is confined to a wheelchair because of osteoarthritis, said: “I appreciate what they’re trying to do with this scheme, but to send a letter like this I think is absolutely terrible - especially when it’s so easy for her to get access to it.

“We’d been away for a few days and Charis ran ahead of us into the house and picked up the post.

“She just saw her name on the envelope - it said ‘To the parent or guardian of...’ - and opened it, thinking it was something about school.

“I was just about to tell her off when I was stopped in my tracks because she was standing there crying.”

Bethan Plant, from the National Child Measurement Programme at NHS Sheffield, said: “The programme is in no way intended to cause distress or to be critical of parenting skills.

“Its purpose is to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining a healthy weight in childhood and to provide parents with advice and information as well as informing them of the services available to support them.

“One of the biggest challenges we all face is that, as levels of obesity increase, people’s perception of what is a healthy weight changes.

“People may understandably be surprised or upset if they receive a letter saying their child is overweight or obese. The programme does not intend to cause offence or upset but to support families in efforts to make positive changes to their lifestyle.

“The letters are intended for the parent, and in the letter we ask that parents consider whether it is appropriate to share the information with their child.

“Parents of children who are identified as overweight are provided with details of the services in place in Sheffield that help children to make changes.”