The health-conscious parents of a four-year-old Melbourne boy were stunned when they were told that he was considered obese despite eating a diet full of fruit and raw vegetables.
Kelly Palmer said her son Lydon was classified as obese by a health care nurse at the Sunshine Child and Maternal Health clinic during a routine check-up.
Lydon, who weighs 21.6kg and is 109cm tall, was given the diagnosis after he fell into the 95th percentile according to his body mass index (BMI).
"I was shocked. It was a bit like a slap in the face,” Mrs Palmer told ninemsn.
"We have a really healthy lifestyle. My husband is a personal trainer and amateur bodybuilder so all we usually eat at home is meat and steamed vegetables.
"Lydon loves eating fruit and raw vegetables. He even eats raw broccoli when we are at the supermarket."
Mrs Palmer said the health care nurse advised her to give Lydon low fat milk to drink and try to engage him in more physical activities.
"She was saying you might need to get him out a bit more. I was thinking you don't even know what I do with my son. You do walk away feeling really inadequate," she said.
Yesterday another Sunshine mother, Helen Karalexis, told Nine News her daughter Viktoria was labelled obese by a nurse at the same centre after her BMI was calculated.
Isis Primary Care, which runs the Child and Maternal Health clinics in the area on behalf of Brimbank City Council, is standing by the use of BMI by its nurses to determine if a child is in a healthy weight range.
"We are talking about an internationally standardised instrument that is used worldwide," Isis Director of Community Services Michael Girolami said.
He said talking to parents about their children's weight was a sensitive issue but it would be careless for nurses not to provide advice to parents about eating and exercise when necessary.
"The fact is that these children have registered on an internationally validated scale as being obese. I am a bit concerned that we could be throwing out the chance to provide information and support in favour of parents' reactions," he said.
Lydon's father Sean said his son's classification was ridiculous and had upset his wife.
"She was really cut up about it. She was thinking she was a bad mum and that she was feeding him the wrong foods," Mr Palmer said.
Mr Palmer, who is also classified as obese according to his BMI despite having only 12 percent body fat, said his son was very active and healthy.
"They need to look at another way of assessing people other than using BMI, it's a really out-dated method," he said.
Dietician Melanie McGrice said that it was important to remember that the index is a population guide and results can be skewed by increased muscle mass.
She said that while giving skim milk to children over two years old was sound advice it is important to look at each case individually.