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Uproar over 'obese' girl's insurance snub

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11:35 CEST+02:00
A five-year-old girl from Orust, an island off the west coast of Sweden, has been refused insurance from giant Folksam, on the grounds of her weight putting her into a “high risk” category, according to a report in daily Aftonbladet.

The case came to light when the girl's mother applied to renew her insurance policies after moving house. She received a letter from the company telling her that her application had been denied.

"The reason for our decision is serious overweight/obesity” said the letter.

The girl's mother said that at first she thought it was joke, because her daughter is apparently a normal healthy happy child. She then realised that it was in fact serious.

“I was shocked and upset. This is totally unreal. The risk analysis team explained that we were welcome to apply for a new insurance policy in a year's time, if my daughter's weight then is the same as it is now,” said Zarah Samuelsson.

Freya, who will be six this summer, is 120 cm tall and her weight tends to hover between 24 and 25 kilograms. According to the BMI (Body mass index) table for children, a girl of her age and height would be considered normal if she weighs 24-24.5 kilos. Anything over 25 kilos is termed “overweight”.

Child health experts were equally critical.

“Even if this girl was a borderline case, there is no proof that it poses any potential danger before a child reaches the age of ten," said Carl-Erik Flodmark, head of Child Obesity in Malmö to the paper.

Andreas Jerat, head of the information department at Folksam, says that the insurance company denies a few cases every year due to the child's BMI, but would not comment on this specific case.

“We purchased the service from an external reinsurance company with experience of risk factors in children. We follow their guidelines,” he told Aftonbladet.

As a result of the furore, the newspaper is calling for readers to boycott the insurance giant.

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