The NHS should stick to helping ill people. They presumably know something about that
Their bureaucratic meddling with healthy people could well cause anorexia in vulnerable children. And the science behind their meddling is crap anyway
The parents of a fit and healthy five-year-old boy were stunned to receive a letter from NHS chiefs informing them that their son is overweight. Active Thomas Watkins weighs just three stone 10lbs and enjoys nothing more than dashing around a neighbourhood football pitch. He is a keen swimmer, careers around during PE twice a week, and even attends healthy cooking classes in the evenings.
Parents Amanda, 33, and Darren, 43, from Kingswood, Bristol, only let Thomas have his first burger six months ago. But a scheme which measures and weighs every five-year-old schoolchild in the country has classed Thomas as overweight.
His shocked parents were told of the news last week by letter and urged to seek advice about how to keep their child healthy.
Mr Watkins stormed: ‘There’s not an ounce of fat on Thomas. ‘He is tall for his age but he is definitely not overweight – he cannot even keep still. We could not believe it when we got the letter. ‘What we don’t want to do is make our children really self-conscious about themselves. ‘This could make children as young as five worry about making themselves thin – when they are fine as it is. It is absolutely crazy.’
Thomas was weighed and measured as part of the government’s National Child Measurement Programme, run by the Department of Health. The controversial scheme, which has been running for seven years, monitors the health of children when they start primary school and again when they leave.
Using the BMI (body mass index) it aims to calculate whether children are at a healthy weight – classing them as either underweight, healthy weight, overweight or very overweight.
Local NHS trusts roll out the project – heading into schools to take measurements of children, It then sends out a letter and information pack to parents for whatever section their child crosses into.
Thomas, who at 3ft 10-and-a-half inches is tall for his age, was told he was overweight. The letter stated: ‘You may be surprised that your child’s result is in the overweight range.
‘It can sometimes be difficult to tell if your child is overweight as they may look similar to other children of their age, but more children are overweight than ever before. ‘Research shows that if your child is overweight now, they are more likely to grow up to be overweight as an adult. This can lead to health problems. So this measurement is an important way of checking how your child is growing.’
But the youngster undergoes a packed programme of activities after school each day – including football, swimming, walking his dog and playing in the park with brother Oliver, two. He eats three meals a day – usually eating porridge for breakfast, sandwiches with fruit for lunch, and a healthy, home-cooked evening meal.
His mother, who runs a transport firm with her husband, said: ‘We agree there should be some scheme to monitor if children are healthy, but this one is flawed. ‘If a child automatically crosses the threshold because he is tall and they deem him ‘overweight’ they get a generic letter sent to them. ‘What you need are nurses in schools assessing which children need help and which do not.
‘Anyone can see that Thomas is not overweight in the slightest.’
A Department of Health spokesman suggested that it might be difficult to tell that a child was overweight just be looking at them. He said: ‘We know it is not easy to hear that your child may be overweight, but so many children are now overweight that we’ve become accustomed to changing body shapes. ‘So it’s hard to tell when a child’s weight is higher than it should be just by looking at them.
‘By weighing and measuring children at key stages in their life, we can track these changes. ‘We’re sharing this information with the parents so they can make informed decisions about their child’s health.
‘If we do nothing, nine out of ten children may grow up with dangerous levels of fat in their bodies, putting them at greater risk of developing serious health problems later in life. ‘Obesity is known to contribute to increased risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. ‘The good news is parents can make a difference by making small changes to their child’s diet and activity levels.’
But nutritionist Gillian Hamer said the BMI system is flawed because it does not distinguish between muscle and fat. ‘Because muscle is heavier than fat you have super fit footballers and rugby players whose BMIs are off the scale,’ she told the Sunday Express. ‘They are deemed clinically obese but the reverse is true. ‘It would be much better to measure the waist, which indicates how much fat you’re carrying.’
Britain handed out 204,000 passports to foreign nationals, latest figures reveal
Britain gave citizenship to the highest number of foreign nationals in Europe, new research has found. A total of 203,600 foreign nationals were awarded British citizenship in 2009 – that is 50 per cent more than second-placed France and more than double the number in Germany.
The figures, from the EU statistics body Eurostat, followed predictions that Britain could become the most populated EU country by 2060 – with 79 million people.
UK passports were given to one in four of the 776,000 new citizens entering the EU in 2009.
The EU saw an 11 per cent rise on the number of people entering the euro zone from the previous year.
The 203,600 people who entered Britain was a 57 per cent increase on the 129,300 who came in 2008.
Critics have said the figures revealed that Labour’s immigration policies had left borders ‘wide open’. Ukip’s home affairs spokesman Gerard Batten told the Daily Express: ‘These figures show how Labour’s uncontrolled, unlimited immigration policy is coming home to roost. ‘David Cameron must get a grip and introduce radical policies to halt mass immigration.’
The Prime Minister has said wants to cut net immigration to the ‘tens of thousands’.
102 foreign criminals and illegal immigrants Britain can’t deport
More than 100 foreign criminals and illegal immigrants have beaten deportation under controversial “right to family life” laws in the past year.
For the first time The Sunday Telegraph can disclose how scores of people the Government wanted to remove from the country have been able to stay by claiming that they had a “family life” here under Article Eight of the European Convention of Human Rights.
A total of 102 people defeated the Home Secretary in the courts in 2010 on family rights grounds, including violent criminals and illegal immigrants who had no other right to be in the country. None claimed that they would be in danger of torture or abuse if they were sent home.
It can also be disclosed that one foreign criminal who used Article Eight was a violent thug and drug dealer who beat his girlfriend and failed to pay child maintenance – but was still allowed to stay in a ruling made by three senior judges.
Last night the figures fuelled the row over the use of the European Convention, which was passed into British law by the previous Labour government, and particularly Article Eight – the “right to private and family life”. Dominic Raab, the Conservative MP who obtained the figures, said: “Before the Human Rights Act, no criminal had ever claimed a right to family life to frustrate a deportation order in this country. “It is high time we changed the law, to restore some common sense and retain public confidence in our border controls.”
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, had ordered that the violent drug dealer, known only as AP because his identity was kept secret by the judges, should be sent back to Trinidad. Article Eight is the number one reason criminals or immigrants, who either entered Britain illegally or breached their visa conditions, managed to defeat deportation, the figures from HM Courts Service show.
There were 233 appeals against deportation in 2010, of which 149 were successful under human rights laws – 102 of them solely citing Article Eight. Thirty-five were under Article Three, which protects people from being killed or tortured if returned to an unsafe country, and the rest used a mix of Articles.
Sir Andrew Green, the chairman of MigrationWatch, said: “We must find a new balance between the rights of individuals and the rights of the community, which appear to have no weight at all. “The fact that seven out of 10 who succeed have used Article Eight underlines the significance of an effective review. It is not enough to kick this issue into the long grass yet again.”
The figures come after a series of Article Eight cases exclusively revealed by this newspaper, which is demanding reform in our End the Human Rights Farce campaign, including:
* A Nepalese killer, Rocky Gurung, allowed to remain here even though he was a single adult with no children, who lived with his parents.
* A Sri Lankan robber allowed to remain here because he has a girlfriend in Britain.
* An Iraqi killer who, it was ruled, should not be deported because he would be a risk to people in his homeland.
* A Bolivian man who avoided deportation partly because he had bought a pet cat.
Last week this newspaper disclosed how tens of thousands of asylum applicants had been allowed to remain in Britain under the Home Office’s backlog-clearing exercise because officials feared that challenging any case with “family life” factors would be overturned in the courts, and lead to expensive legal actions.
The latest case, involving AP, will again raise concern about how judges are applying the law. From north London, he has a five-year-old daughter and “did not provide care for her … nor provide any funds for her maintenance”, according to the court, but still won his fight to stay in Britain because of his “right to family life”.
AP, who lives in a £500,000 housing association flat close to one of London’s most desirable streets, was jailed for 18 months by Ipswich Crown Court in May 2008 for possession of cocaine with intent to supply. His criminal record included battery of his partner in August 2007. He was handed a community sentence, which he breached and was later given a suspended two-year jail sentence.
Home Office officials notified him that they intended to deport him back to the Caribbean, but he appealed and after his release from jail in January 2009 told a tribunal he was remorseful and getting his life back on track. Two days later he was arrested for possession of cocaine and fined £75.
In March 2009 a tribunal ruled that AP should not be deported. The judges said: “We are satisfied that the effect of his proposed removal on all members of his family unit in the UK would result in removal being disproportionate, especially since he has a child who has a strong bond with him and he with her and we have heard credible evidence that he is a good and caring father.
“We therefore find, in striking a fair balance between the rights of the individual and the interests of the community, that our assessment of proportionality is that a decision to remove the appellant is in all the circumstances not proportionate and we allow this appeal under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.”
The Home Secretary appealed against the decision, but it was upheld by Lord Justice Longmore, Lord Justice Carnwath and Lord Justice Rimer at the Court of Appeal last month.
AP came to Britain aged three, when his mother was already in the country. The mother, who also cannot be named, was living here after overstaying a one-month visa which was granted to come from Trinidad to Britain to attend her niece’s engagement party.
British photo phobia still going strong
Mother handcuffed, arrested and locked in a police cell… for filming council meeting on her mobile phone
A mother of four arrested and handcuffed after filming a council meeting on her mobile phone may take action against police for their ‘heavy handed’ approach.
Jacqui Thompson, 49, of Llanwrda, near Carmarthen, West Wales who is campaigning to keep a day centre open, was put in a cell and claimed she was only allowed to leave the police station after giving a written undertaking not to repeat her conduct.
Mrs Thompson said yesterday that at the police station she was told to remove her shoes – and even her wedding ring. ‘I can’t think why,” she said, “I had to put water on my finger to prise it off.’
Mrs Thompson, who runs the Carmarthenshire Planning Problems blog, had been attending a meeting of the county council at Carmarthen in west Wales which was discussing the day centre. The council chairman asked Mrs Thompson to leave when she began filming, and when she refused four police officers – two men and two women – arrived within minutes, in two cars.
‘It was a complete over reaction, I wasn’t interfering with the meeting. Two officers grabbed me, took me outside the door of the public gallery and handcuffed me. I was searched, my mobile phone taken, then I was driven 30 miles to the police station at Llanelli.
‘I remained in handcuffs then I was processed and put in a cell for two hours. I was worried about meeting my 14-year-old daughter from school but luckily someone had contacted my husband, who was able to make arrangements,” she recalled.
News has quickly spread on Twitter and internet blogs, with supporters voicing anger at her treatment.
Mrs Thompson, who is a community councillor at Llanwrda, said: “It’s not illegal to film meetings and I wasn’t making any noise. “If someone displayed enough interest in our community council meetings to want to come and film, I would really welcome it. “It would open up what we talk about to the public. But the county council doesn’t seem to be interested. “They are quite happy for people not to know what goes on at all.”
She added: “I’ve consulted my solicitor who has written to Dyfed Powys police to seek an explanation. I may take action because what happened was an affront and quite unnecessary in a free country. ‘I only signed the undertaking because I was under duress and I’m wondering whether this was legal. They said that otherwise I would have to be kept in overnight to await a court.’
Her husband Kerry, 47, a forestry contractor, remarked: “I’m appalled by what happened to my wife, and so is everyone locally. ‘People have been saying that if you report a burglary the police come next day yet they can send four officers within minutes just because my wife is filming councillors on her mobile phone.’
A Dyfed Powys police spokesman said: ‘At approximately 10.20am on June 8 officers were asked to attend at County Hall, Carmarthen, to deal with an incident involving a woman in the public gallery.
‘On arrival officers spoke to a 49-year-old woman but she refused to co-operate and she was then arrested to prevent a further breach of the peace. She was later released with no further action.’
The Welsh Assembly have said it is up to individual councils in Wales to decide for themselves whether to allow live blogging, tweeting or filming at meetings.
David Mamet launches tirade against ‘antisemitism’ of British writers
Chicago-born Jewish playwright says books, plays and essays by contemporary British authors are full of anti-Jewish ‘filth’
Leading US playwright David Mamet has launched an attack on the British literary establishment over what he claims are inherently antisemitic attitudes. Many contemporary British authors who write in the liberal tradition, Mamet said, produce plays, books and essays that are full of anti-Jewish “filth”.
Speaking to the Financial Times, the Chicago-born writer expanded on the reasons behind a political conversion that was first announced in a piece for the New York journal Village Voice, headlined “Why I am no longer a Brain-Dead Liberal”, in 2008.
Asked whether he felt Europe was more sceptical about Israel than the US, the writer said: “There is a profound and ineradicable taint of antisemitisim in the British.”
Although Mamet admits to owing a great educational debt to English literature, he accuses classic novelists such as Anthony Trollope and George Eliot of using “stock Jew” characterisations. “And the authors of today,” Mamet adds, “I’m not going to mention names because of your horrendous libel laws, but there are famous dramatists and novelists over there whose works are full of antisemitic filth.”
The creator of Glengarry Glenn Ross and American Buffalo has just published a non-fiction account of his journey from the political left towards rightwing views. His new book, The Secret Knowledge, is a polemic that targets fundamental tenets of leftwing thinking, from the value of a liberal arts-based education to the importance of environmentalism.
“My revelation came upon reading Friedrich Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom,” Mamet says in the book. “He wrote that there are no solutions; there are only trade-offs – money spent on more crossing guards cannot be spent on books. Both are necessary, a choice must be made, and that this is the tragic view of life.”
Mamet said that for him the “paradigmatic Brit as far as the Middle East goes” is TE Lawrence, author of Seven Pillars of Wisdom and remembered for his portrayal in the film Lawrence of Arabia. “Even before the oil was there, you loved the desert,” Mamet told the FT. “But there is a Jewish state there ratified by the United Nations and you want to give it away to some people whose claim is rather dubious.”
Mamet’s new book praises Sarah Palin’s political approach and calls the decision to build an Islamic centre in the vicinity of Ground Zero, the former site of the World Trade Centre, “a cultural obscenity”.
African-origin Leftist thinks she should be allowed to use racial abuse against an Indian woman in Britain
African resentment of Indians seems rather common — perhaps because the economic success of Indians shows that black failure is not the result of skin colour
The row happened on February 24, 2009, during a Bristol City Council budget debate. Top of the agenda was the city’s Legacy Commission that had been granted £750,000 of taxpayers’ money to fund ethnic minority projects and was created in part to atone for Bristol’s historic role in the slave trade. Shirley, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, believed passionately in the initiative.
During the debate, Mrs Jethwa, who moved to Britain from India 24 years ago and whose husband Nick is of Ugandan origin, stood up to say she did not agree with spending public money ‘righting the wrongs’ of past centuries.
‘When Jay spoke against it, I was upset,’ says Shirley. ‘She said that she didn’t receive any special help when she moved here, and didn’t need it, but just got on with things. I was shocked. I thought that as an immigrant herself she would have had more empathy with other ethnic minorities and more understanding of the issues that they’re facing.
‘When I stood up after her, I said, “In our culture we have a word for you, and I am sure many in this city would understand ‘coconut’.” I hadn’t planned to say it – it just came out in the heat of the moment. Council meetings are often very heated, with insults flying around.
‘Of course I shouldn’t have used that word, but to me it meant that she was denying her cultural roots, rather than anything racial. It wasn’t about the colour of her skin, or about her behaving in a white way.’
Despite Shirley’s protestations, when used as a derogatory term, the word coconut does have racial implications and it is little surprise Mrs Jethwa was offended. However, she did not actually hear the insult at the time because of the din in the chamber – she watched the incident later on the council’s webcam footage.
Two days on, Shirley received a call informing her that a formal complaint had been made against her. She responded by sending Mrs Jethwa an email apologising unreservedly for her comment, but did not get a reply. Following an official complaint from the Conservative Party, Shirley was told there would be an internal council investigation.
‘I was very upset when I realised Jay was going ahead with the formal complaint,’ she says. ‘What saddened me most of all was that I’d been delighted when she was elected to the council four years after me, because another woman from an ethnic minority was joining me. Now the only two female ethnic minority councillors were having this very public row. It wasn’t what I’d envisaged at all.’
The findings of the internal investigation were published four months later. Senior council solicitor Shahzia Daya wrote: ‘My conclusion is that although the term “coconut” undeniably has a racial element to it, its use in this particular context does not constitute racial abuse.’
She went on to say it was ‘offensive and insulting’ and that Shirley should be suspended for a month, but no further action should be taken. That August a local government tribunal overturned her suspension.
‘I breathed a sigh of relief and thought the incident was over,’ says Shirley. ‘It had been very stressful, but I thought I could put it behind me. When I received a call that November from the police saying I was being investigated, I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t understand it at all. There was no need to take it that far when I’d already apologised.’
A complaint had been made by a member of the public, Christopher Windows – a Conservative activist who is now a Bristol councillor. Shirley was interviewed under caution by the Avon and Somerset Police hate crimes unit on December 7, 2009.
Under the Public Order Act 1986 – established to prevent the incitement of racial hatred, whether by Islamic fanatics preaching hate or marches by the far Right – she was charged with racially aggravated harassment.
Last July, after being found guilty, she was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £620 costs. ‘I was devastated by the verdict but I wasn’t surprised,’ she says. ‘I had the feeling the judge wanted to make an example of me.
‘Appearing in court was the most horrible thing that’s ever happened to me. Before that, I’d kept telling myself that surely it would be dropped, but in court it hit me that it was real – I was really being accused of being a racist. When the verdict came, it was official. The feelings of sadness and shame and humiliation overwhelmed me.
‘I’ve never been in any kind of trouble before and for someone who’s spent decades working to make a difference to ethnic minorities it’s especially hurtful. I used to spend all day every day going to people’s houses, listening to their problems and trying to help. It makes me feel like it was all for nothing.
‘The saddest thing is that I’ve met people who have experienced racial violence and verbal abuse, and I feel my punishment diminishes what they’ve been through.’
Shirley believes her experience illustrates that a dangerous emphasis has been placed on political correctness in modern Britain.
‘I understand that the law is there to protect people from prejudice but I feel we’ve reached a point where people are terrified to say anything at all if it involves another culture or race for fear it is misinterpreted. If people don’t feel they can speak out, it is dangerous.
‘I think my punishment was so extreme because the case was public, so the police and the Crown Prosecution Service felt they had to respond in a way that proved they were taking it seriously. But the wrong people are being prosecuted just to make a point. ‘I also worry that what happened to me will set a legal precedent that will pave the way for more of these sort of cases.’
The incident also led to Shirley being subjected to a barrage of racist abuse. ‘I received letters calling me a wog and the n-word and I had to remove my website from the internet as people posted vile comments on it, one of which said I was a monkey,’ she says.
‘My solicitor gave all the material to the police but nothing was done about it.’
Shirley credits her daughter, who is 27, and two sons, aged 22 and 18, with keeping her going, along with support from friends and strangers. ‘I received a lot of messages from people saying how silly the case was, which helped when I was at my lowest,’ she says.
She plans to continue with her community work as a church minister but she is despondent that her career as a councillor, her proudest achievement, is at an end, as she decided not to stand in last month’s elections.
‘I was proud to be a member of the council because I wanted to be a role model to young people from minority backgrounds,’ she says. ‘Now, my biggest fear is that, in spite of everything I’ve done, the only thing I’ll be remembered for is the coconut comment. I just hope people forgive me and allow me to move on.’
The CPS said: ‘In this case, we determined that a prosecution was in the public interest because it alleged an offence where the suspect demonstrated hostility towards the victim based on discrimination against the victim’s ethnic origin.’
Climate change should be excluded from British school curriculum, says adviser
Head of government review says school syllabus needs to ‘get back to the science in science’
Climate change should not be included in the national curriculum, the government adviser in charge of overhauling the school syllabus in England has said.
Tim Oates, whose wide-ranging review of the curriculum for five- to 16-year-olds will be published later this year, said it should be up to schools to decide whether – and how – to teach climate change, and other topics about the effect scientific processes have on our lives.
In an interview with the Guardian, Oates called for the national curriculum “to get back to the science in science”. “We have believed that we need to keep the national curriculum up to date with topical issues, but oxidation and gravity don’t date,” he said. “We are not taking it back 100 years; we are taking it back to the core stuff. The curriculum has become narrowly instrumentalist.”
His stance marks a turning point in the development of the national curriculum. Oates’ intention is to substantially reduce the national curriculum. Under the previous government, the curriculum expanded to nearly 500 pages. His remarks also show he wants to reverse a shift in emphasis, made under the Labour government, under which teachers were encouraged to place great importance on scientific “issues” and not just scientific knowledge.
Climate change has featured in the national curriculum since 1995. In 2007, the topics “cultural understanding of science” and “applications and implications of science” were added to the curriculum for 11- to 14-year-olds.
But Bob Ward, policy and communications director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, warned that Oates’ ideas might not be in pupils’ best interests and could make science less interesting for children. “An emphasis on climate change in the curriculum connects the core scientific concepts to topical issues,” he said. “Certain politicians feel that they don’t like the concept of climate change. I hope this isn’t a sign of a political agenda being exercised.”
He said leaving climate change out of the national curriculum might encourage a teacher who was a climate change sceptic to abandon teaching the subject to their pupils. “This would not be in the best interests of pupils. It would be like a creationist teacher not teaching about evolution. Climate change is about science. If you remove the context of scientific concepts, you make it less interesting to children.”
Annette Smith, chief executive of the Association for Science Education, said she agreed with Oates that the curriculum was too crowded. “However, what I wouldn’t want to lose from the national curriculum is the idea that science is developing all the time and that it impinges on our lives,” she said.
But Oates, who is director of research at Cambridge Assessment, one of the biggest exam boards in Europe, said the topics that engaged children in science “changed dramatically” from year to year. “The national curriculum shouldn’t ever try to keep up with those, otherwise it would keep changing.” Teachers knew best which current affairs topics related to science would interest their pupils, he said. “A lot should not be in the national curriculum at all. A lot of damage was done to the curriculum last time it was reviewed,” he said.
“If you live in a town where there is a lot of manufacturing, then teachers can use that as a context to discuss the social effects of science; other groups of pupils might be more interested in how the pharmaceutical industry produces drugs. It’s really important that children think through the social application of science, but the precise topics… do not have to be specified by the state.”
Oates also called for algebra to be taught to pupils at an earlier age. “Algebra has crept later and later over the last few decades. We should start ‘pre-algebra’ with young children – aged eight, for example,” he said. He said that by the age of 11, children could be solving simple algebraic equations.
He said this would bring England into line with some nations in Asia. “Algebra is so important because it is the foundation of so much of maths. In other nations, children operate with equations and algebraic expressions.” He said some maths was taught only to older children, because teachers in primary school did not have the confidence to teach it themselves.
The curriculum review, which started in January, will look at 12 subjects, including maths, English, science, and art and design. It will consider which subjects should be compulsory and at what age.
At the launch of the review, Michael Gove, the education secretary, said the national curriculum was “too long … patronising towards teachers and stifled innovation”.
“Its pages are littered with irrelevant material – mainly high-sounding aims, such as the requirement to ‘challenge injustice’, which are wonderful in politicians’ speeches, but contribute nothing to helping students deepen their stock of knowledge.”
EC directive ‘bans blood donations after US trips’
Blood donors are being banned from giving blood for a month after returning from the US because of a European directive. Donors who reveal they have just returned from the States are being told to defer their appointments because of the – very small – risk that they might be harbouring the West Nile Fever virus.
In 2004 and 2005, the National Blood Service started screening donors who had been to North America for the virus, which is borne by mosquitoes and can be passed on via infected blood donations. They found no infected donors.
That followed a 2003 epidemic across North America, where it had previously been almost unheard of.
In 2004 an European directive (2004/33/EC) was then introduced stipulating a mandatory 28 day no-donation rule for people who had returned from areas with “ongoing transmission” of the virus to humans, such as the US and Canada. It came into effect the following year.
Last year there were 1,021 reported cases of West Nile Fever in the US, according to its Center for Disease Control (CDC), resulting in 57 deaths. Many American states reported few cases, including Washington DC (District of Columbia) , Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
The virus can cause inflammation of the brain, called encephalitis, as well as meningitis and acute inflammation of the spinal cord. Since 2004 there have only been two cases reported in Britain, both of which originated in Canada.
The website of the National Blood Service admits that “many of the rules implemented in the UK on who can give blood are a requirement of European law”.
Daniel Hannan, the Conservative MEP, said last night that the directive sounded like the typical product of the EC bureaucracy. He said: “They very often supply solutions to non-existent problems, because the job of the bureaucracy is to justify it’s existence”. He added: “I’ve observed over many years how they will always tend to err on the side of maximum regulation in order to justify their budgets, rather than saying ‘To what problem is this a solution?'”
A spokesman for NHS Blood and Transplant, which runs the National Blood Service, said officials had “no discretion” to deviate from the directive. She said: “Because we are a government body, we follow the EC guidelines. There’s no discretion.” She added: “We are working up plans to implement a [screening] test because the West Nile virus is becoming endemic in Europe.”
If it’s endemic in Europe itself, what is the sense of the Anerican ban? I think this is just a pretense of superiority. Perhaps America should ban Germans from visiting America in case they are carrying the deadly E.coli strain that originated in German organic farms
More British kids being diagnosed as obese
There have always been fat kids. It’s genetic. The main difference is that fat is now diagnosed as a disease where once it was not. Increased diagnosis does not mean increased incidence
Dramatic evidence showing how young children and even babies are falling victim to the obesity epidemic is disclosed today.
Babies are being treated in hospital because of their weight – some after being weaned on puréed junk food – and children as young as six are suffering strokes.
Doctors say rising numbers of babies and toddlers are being diagnosed as clinically obese and even suffering weight-linked diseases that normally appear in later life.
Figures show that hundreds of children under three are being treated for obesity at hospitals around the country. At least 40 babies aged under one have been admitted in the past five years.
Public health experts warned that because hospitals only see the most extreme cases, the true levels of obesity among babies and young children will be far higher.
Specialists working in hospital obesity clinics report that they are seeing one year-olds who weigh as much as three stone – nearly twice as much as healthy youngsters of the same age.
They say much of the problem is being caused by parents who attempt to wean their babies while they are too young and feed them inappropriate foods.
Doctors have seen babies fed crisps, chocolate and fizzy drinks. In some cases parents have been found to be giving their infants puréed chips with milk, or mashing up takeaway food. Experts said some parents needed to be taught what to feed babies. The data also shows that many of the overweight children are suffering breathing difficulties and displaying the early signs of obesity-related diabetes.
In two extreme examples, a six year-old and an eight year-old suffered strokes that were thought to have resulted from their weight.
The figures, which were released by 66 of Britain’s 168 acute hospital trusts under the Freedom of Information Act, show that more than 5,500 children under the age of 16 were diagnosed or treated for obesity in hospitals in the past five years. Some of the youngsters had surgery such as gastric bands and gastric bypasses to treat their condition.
In one case a 15 year-old who weighed more than 25 stone was treated at a hospital in North Staffordshire before her family took her to Mexico to have a gastric band fitted.
Entire families have also been sent on healthy eating and dietary counselling courses.
Forty-four of the hospital trusts contacted provided figures for diagnosis and treatment broken down by age. Four hundred children under five were treated in hospital after being diagnosed with clinical obesity. These included 40 children under one, 49 one year-olds and 85 two year-olds.
Dr Ken Ong, clinical lead for childhood obesity at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, said: “I certainly see children under the age of two years old. We are seeing more and more referrals in that age range.
“The one and two year-olds we see are massively obese but it is only the very extreme who are coming to hospital clinics. There will be many more who are in the community or are not being recognised at all. The popular hope is that it is just baby fat and they will grow out of it, but our studies show that it is more likely to continue being obese and even become more obese.”
By the time they leave primary school, one in three children is classified as obese. Research suggests that unhealthy eating can “programme” young children’s tastes for the rest of their life. Other researchers are finding evidence that a child’s genes may be programmed in the womb by the lifestyle of their parents.
Paul Sacher, of the British Dietetic Association and chief research officer for MEND, a charity that runs obesity treatment and prevention programmes, said many parents simply did not know what they should be feeding their children.
He added: “I see children all the time who are being given a lolly, a chocolate bar or packet of crisps. I see mums pouring fizzy pop into their baby’s bottles and in parts of Wales they put chips in milk in bottles.”
Recognising that role models are important doesn’t make you a patronising Lefty
I think that Katharine Birbalsingh has a small point below but I doubt that is very important. Cream will rise to the top regardless. There have been many examples of people from humble backgrounds rising to the top by their own efforts. Abraham Lincoln of course springs to mind. But I guess that people of modest ability may benefit from good examples
Once at a London dinner party I met a white English guy, married to a Nigerian woman who was soon to give birth. They lived in Lagos. I asked him about his future family and whether they would return to London. He shook his head. “I would never bring my children up in London. I would only ever bring my children up in Nigeria.”
I grinned. “Really? Why?” “Because my children will be black. And I want them to grow up in a country where being black and successful is perfectly normal.”
Secretly I was impressed that this white man should understand this point: that role models are essential for children to make successes of themselves. People like to think that they alone are the masters of their destinies. They ignore the various influences that will have supported them psychologically when they were young. They ignore the privilege that helped to get them to where they are. That isn’t to say that these influences and privileges are ALL that matter. But they do have a part to play.
It isn’t just a coincidence that children often end up doing something similar to what their parents did or that they might choose the same career as their best friend’s father or an old uncle whom they admired. Neither is it surprising that white middle-class American kids in New Jersey can listen to gangster rap and sing merrily along to the screaming talk of “hos” and “bitches” without being remotely influenced by this gutter culture. Yet Snoop Dogg bans his children from listening to his own music because he knows that it may very well ruin their lives. The only “female” dog his children will hear about is their own pet golden retriever.
Recognising that role models are important doesn’t make one into a good-hearted, patronising, excuse-making Lefty. It simply means one is accurate in one’s analysis of culture and human nature. Where such leftist-type thinking takes a wrong turn is when it is widely believed that role models are ALL that matters. Clearly, good schooling, inspirational teachers, high expectations, boundaries and direction are just as important, if not more so.
People tend to identify with those who look like them, sound like them, those who are part of their culture, who speak their language and so on. This shouldn’t come as any great surprise. That isn’t racism. It’s just the way we are. When you’re abroad and you meet some fellow Brits, you suddenly start chatting because you share something in common and you feel comfortable. In the same way, little boys and girls look around and identify with those who are like them. Manicure shops are often staffed by Korean and other East Asians in London just like Pakistanis often run corner shops up North. People tend to follow their own. Sure, there are always exceptions – Eminem can ask Slim Shady to stand up – but I’m describing a general trend.
“In Nigeria,” this white man argued, “black lawyers, doctors and bankers are everywhere.” In the day, when I would search for black professionals to speak to my kids, finding them was difficult. A black state-educated – better yet, educated in the inner-city – doctor or banker? It was like looking for a needle in a haystack. But find a black rapper? They were a dime a dozen. In fact, some of the kids themselves were experts at it.
Sure, you can conclude that the reason for this is that black people have rhythm in their blood or that they’re all too stupid to do well at school to enable successful careers. Or you could consider the matter for a moment and conclude that perhaps on this one a little more thinking is required.