The London Telegraphreported that because of a software programming error, the parents of hundreds of UK school children have been told their child is overweight when he or she is not.
According to the Telegraph, "Millions of children in England are weighed at the beginning and end of their time at primary schools as part of the National Child Measurement Programme to combat child obesity." The numbers are then fed into a computer program that will, when certain thresholds are met, automatically generate "feedback letters" informing parents that their children need to lose weight.
However, it was recently discovered that a programming error has led to hundreds of children with healthy body mass indexes being told instead they were overweight, or overweight children that they were very overweight.
The National Health Service (NHS) which runs the National Child Measurement Programme, apologized for any "unnecessary concern" the letter generated. It also promises to fix the software problem as soon as possible.
The parents of children affected are to be personally contacted about the error.
Robert N. Charette is a Contributing Editor to IEEE Spectrum and an acknowledged international authority on information technology and systems risk management. A self-described “risk ecologist,” he is interested in the intersections of business, political, technological, and societal risks. Charette is an award-winning author of multiple books and numerous articles on the subjects of risk management, project and program management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. A Life Senior Member of the IEEE, Charette was a recipient of the IEEE Computer Society’s Golden Core Award in 2008.