A MOTHER is distraught after the NHS said her five-year-old daughter was “very overweight”.

Jo Bond said she had been left feeling as if she could not look after little Sofia, a pupil at Mile Oak Primary School.

The youngster was measured for her weight and height just before the recent half-term.

Then during the break, 35-year-old Jo received a letter telling her that her daughter was “very overweight”.

The scheme, called the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP), is a public health programme which assesses children’s body mass indexes (BMI) to determine whether they are a healthy weight, which ranges in different age groups.

But Jo insists Sofia’s weight of 32kg (five stone) is fine, as she is very tall at 4ft 1in.

Jo, of Foxhunters Road in Portslade, said: “She isn’t the size of a standard five-year-old, she is of a big build.

“I was similar when I was her age.

“But I just think this letter is an extremely offensive thing to send out.

“It has made me feel awful and made me question my suitability for my job, let alone my own children. I don’t like the fact that we are measuring children in a blanket form like this when they are five years old.”

Jo is a professional childminder running her own business, Little Beans Childcare, and has a qualification in nutrition.

The mother of two, who also has a nine-month-old son, looks after about 15 children all together.

She said Sofia exercises regularly and attends dance classes while eating good, healthy meals every day.

“It’s really had a detrimental effect on my family,” Jo said. “It makes me think how many other families are getting these letters and feeling like this.”

The letter, seen by The Argus, tells Jo her daughter is “very overweight”.

It also shows a graph indicating Sofia’s BMI of 20.5, when it should be about 16. Jo said she has not told Sofia they received the letter because she and her husband Matt “do not want to discuss it in front of her”.

The programme was introduced in 2005/06, and is carried out by Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust here. It was launched to try to tackle obesity in youngsters, help recognise trends and increase public understanding of weight issues.

A spokesman for the trust said: “Healthcare professionals measures the height and weight of children in reception class and Year 6 to assess overweight and obesity levels.

“Children’s heights and weights are measured and used to calculate a BMI centile. In some cases although a child may not necessarily look overweight their BMI can put children as overweight or very overweight.

“If a child’s BMI is recorded as very overweight the healthcare professional will make all attempts to contact the parent/carer by telephone prior to the letter being sent, to discuss this and offer advice and guidance.

“If the healthcare professional is unable to reach the parent/carer by telephone they will send them a letter outlining their child’s measurement, and are encouraged to make contact with the school nursing team.”

The school did not want to comment because it is the trust’s nurses that carry out the tests, not school staff.