SPECIALIST nurses will call unannounced at obese youngsters’ homes in a bid to sign them up to a weight loss programme.

Primary school children will be weighed when they return to school in September.

The details of pupil’s identified as very overweight will be handed to nurses at the East Lancashire Primary Care Trust.

They will then cold-call at the child’s home in a bid to persuade parents to work with them.

Together they will then draw up a individual plan to get them in shape.

Latest figures show that around one in four 10-year-olds are overweight, compared with a national average of 16 per cent.

And politicans and health professionals said the action was needed to reverse the trend.

The home visits or unique to the East Lancashire Care Trust which covers Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Ribble Valley and Rossendale.

Across the country most PCT’s - including the one covering Blackburn and Darwen - are sending home letters to parents of the heaviest pupils.

An East Lancs PCT spokesman said the approaches were handled sensitively.

He said: “This is not about a ‘wagging finger’ approach or making judgements about people. It’s about trying to help them in a realistic way.

“The language we use will depend on the particular child or the family you are dealing with.

“Some people want to be told straight and directly, others might have to be dealt with in a more gentle or encouraging way.

“Those are the judgements we have to make as health professionals.

“The introduction of weighing and measuring children is a good idea.

“It helps to see the extent of the problem and what can be done to help individuals.

“However, there are many different actions and pathways forward that will be different in each instance. That is why we work with children and their families to find what is appropriate and realistic and which route forward is helpful and productive.”

The trust’s director of public health Dr Ellis Friedman said they were “very serious” about the action because rates of childhood obesity were “worringly” going up.

He said: “Our measurement results for the second year will probably show that areas of East Lancashire are above the national average, since the rates are linked to levels of deprivation.

“Where a child is found to be overweight, our aim is certainly not to stigmatize them but to help the child’s family address the issues positively and within their means.”

Lancashire Telegraph health expert Dr Tom Smith said it was vital that overweight children were given the help they need to shed the pounds.

He said: “Being a little overweight is the norm now, so a lot of parents don’t realise that their child has a problem and can be very defensive about it, but the fact is that we are seeing weight-related illnesses like diabetes and even heart problems in young children now, and they are gearing up for a lower life expectancy than their parents.

“Parents need to listen to the advice and take responsibility.”

Burnley Council leader Gordon Birtwistle added: “It is difficult to strike a balance and that’s why I’m glad to hear every family is being looked at individually according to their needs.

“Some people might say they are pointing the finger and going in too hard, but if these children are storing up problems for the future then their parents need to know about it, and there’s no point telling people their children are overweight then offering them no help to sort it out.”

• Blackburn with Darwen PCT has a total of 440 children classed as overweight or obese, and its obesity care scheme for both children and adults is used to target those most in need of help to shed the pounds.