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  • Writer's pictureJanice Tracey

Childhood Obesity - Can we get it right?

It's just wrong on so many fronts - this nonsense idea that schools should have a responsibility for weighing and monitoring our childrens shape and size and that the schools be rated for success and failure in this. 

We send our children to school so that they can learn, be inspired, be challenged and be prepared for life in later years. 

Parents doing their best

As parents we also have responsibility for our childrens education and inspiration.  And more importantly, their health.  And as parents we do the best we can, the best we know how to, the best given the circumstances of our own lives, our own education, our own upbringing.  No-one sets out to be a bad parent, or give their child less than they deserve.  But sometimes we fall short and thats why it is important for government and schools to pitch in and give us a helping hand, when we fall short or things are just not as good as they should be. 

UK Study says Schools Not the Answer

However this weighing idea in schools is so not the way to do it.  And it ignores a UK study released in 2018 that involved 54 primary schools and 1,467 children (aged 5 or 6) which concluded that schools are not the answer to childhood obesity epidemic.  

Does anyone think this is a good idea?

Thankfully I haven't seen, heard or read one piece of support for this idea.  No-one in their right mind would think that this type of fat shaming at an early age, at any age, is a good idea.  How would it build confidence, inspire, educate or help our children develop into strong, self loving, nurturing and nurtured adults.  What it could do is result in deep psychologial damage that could lead to a whole different type of dis ease and ill health in later life.  

The idea seems to have originated from a project in Amsterdam, focusing on deprived areas with high levels of childhood obesity.  However the real story behind the Amsterdam project is more connected and joined up with a very clear focus on how people connect with their environment. The programme has steadily been working on building a coalition of partners, all working in their own domain on this issue, sending out the same message: healthy behaviour is normal behaviour.

Three simple lifestyle rules form the basis of the Amsterdam message:     Healthy food and drink, exercise, and sleep. We'd do well to keep it as simple as this - for a start. I wonder if we incorporated this with the @ JamieOliver  message, listen here as he talks to @ drchatterjee , would we be part of the way there? I’d love to hear your thoughts.   

Some of the key areas of focus reaping benefits in Amsterdam:

  • A ban on bringing juice to focus schools and investment in more water fountains around the city

  • Cooking classes to teach healthy varieties of ethnic dishes: pizzas with a broccoli base, kebabs with lean chicken instead of pork, honey and dates substituted for sugar

  • City refusal to sponsor any event joint-funded by a fast food company

  • Parents encouraged to put small children on bikes without pedals instead of wheeling them in buggies

  • Focus on the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, including counselling for pregnant women and mothers

  • Families encouraged to eat dinner together

  • Sports centre membership and activities subsidised for low-income families

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