Should we weigh our school children?

Have we got to the stage where we weigh our school children.

The importance of the right diet and good nutrition and encouraging healthy eating habits from an early age is imperative in combating Ireland’s growing obesity epidemic.

Most childhood obesity is caused by simply eating too much and not enough exercise.

Our children are playing less outside less and spending more time indoors watching television or playing computer games.

At the Annual General Meeting of the Irish Medical Organisation, Dr Edna Roche, Consultant Paediatric Endocrinologist at Tallaght Hospital and head of Paediatrics at Trinity College, revealed that children could be weighed on their first day of primary school.

Under the proposal — which is still being discussed by specialists, General Practitioners, (GPs) the Health Service Executive, (HSE) and Department of Health officials — children as young as four will be checked for signs of obesity when they start school.

If they are considered over weight, or if their diet is seen as a potential cause for concern, their GP will be informed and they will be referred to obesity specialists for additional support.

This move is being considered at a time when Ireland’s childhood obesity levels are continuing to raise concerns across the country.

Childhood obesity has also been described by the World Health Organisation as a “global epidemic”.

Director of human health and nutrition at Safefood, Dr Clíodhna Foley-Nolan, said the weighing of children needs to become normalised, and be treated the same way an eye test is.

However, the obesity expert said, it would require parental education and a cultural shift and could not be seen as negative, insulting or something which could stigmatise a child.

“I am not sure the first day of school would be the best time, but we need to monitor children’s weight.”

She said it was important weighing was seen as part of a child’s overall well-being.

The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, states one-in-five Irish children and teenagers aged five to 17 are overweight or obese. This is despite the fact that four out of five are thought to be of average weight by their parents.

The International Obesity Task Force states 200m school children are overweight with 40-50m obese.

 

The Facts: Obesity in Ireland

  • 300,000 Irish Children are Obese.
  • This number increases by 10,000 annually.
  • 1 in 5 Irish children are obese.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO 1998) report shows that the prevalence of both adult and childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions worldwide.
  • 11.6% and 13% of all Irish girls and 10.5% and 9.2% (5-12 years) of boys are either overweight or obese.

The need to address this problem is of paramount importance for the future and health of our children.

Encourage your child/children to make a “Bucket List” eg:

  • Roll down a big hill
  • Eat an apple straight from the tree
  • Build a den
  • Skim a stone
  • Fly a kite
  • Play conkers
  • Hunt for treasure on a beach
  • Make a mud pie
  • Eat blackberries growing in the wild
  • Feel like you’re flying in the wind
  • Climb a huge hill
  • Plant it, grow it, eat it
  • Run around in the rain
  • Play hopscotch

 

Stop the spread and have some old fashioned fun.

And therefore:

Eliminate the possibility of the question becoming a reality –

Should we weigh our school children?

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