Interview - Tam Fry, Honorary chairman of the Child Growth Foundation and spokesperson for the National Obesity Forum.

Katy Morton
Monday, July 25, 2011

Tam Fry has spearheaded child growth awareness in primary care for 25 years, as well as campaigned against childhood obesity.

Do you support the call from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) to give women more choice over where to give birth? (News, 15 July)

My impression is that the RCOG has forgotten about the support desperately needed for women to be in better shape to have children. It also fails to emphasise the impact of obesity on pregnant women - on themselves, their babies and the NHS. Less reliance on hospitals per se is a good thing, but the midwife-led units it suggests would need to be near to or based in a hospital where emergency help would be available.

How could the pressure on maternity services be eased?

Education is the answer. There is a lack of any focus on the optimal weight for women both before and during pregnancy. The RCOG suggests counselling women early in pregnancy, but this is far too late. The process should be started in school, with midwives and dieticians going in to talk to PHSE classes about childbirth. This might also have a positive bearing on the number of teen pregnancies. This would need more midwives, and I'm astounded the Government has not responded to the pleas for more from the RCOG.

What are your thoughts on the Department of Health's new guidance on physical activity (News, 11 July), and does it go far enough in terms of what exercise and how much children should be doing?

The guidelines are up in the clouds.

The majority of parents do their utmost to get children out of their pushchairs and off to play - but where? Many existing areas are either uninviting or unsafe. Rather than producing fancy reports, the Government should be putting its money into creating the necessary infrastructure before getting on its high horse and 'nannying'.

What would be your recommendations?

Local government needs to create more accessible play spaces with separate areas for toddlers and older children, that are safe and regulated and allow supervision. Parks are a wonderful legacy, but frequently they are populated by people that young families would not want to be near. Children are very imaginative when given the tools to spark their activity, but at the moment they have precious little space and too few tools.

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