20.11.09

School Weigh-Ins

People in Norway seem pretty fit compared to those in Ireland. At least they don’t let a bit of rain – or even a deluge – put them off going outdoors. We’d be housebound these days if that was the case. In Norway, chucking kids outside in all weathers, seems to lead to adulthoods filled with cycling, roller-skiing and hiking all over the place; still in ridiculous clothing. And then the snow comes of course... Well, they were born with skis on – ouch! – weren’t they, these Norwegians?

Well despite this high level of activity, obesity is a growing problem here just as it is in the rest of the western world. According to Aftenposten, the authorities are so worried about the increasing numbers of overweight children in schools, that they are re-introducing a school weighing programme, which was abolished in 1997. The reason they stopped weighing kids ten years ago was because it was deemed too traumatic for the children. I can imagine. This time they’re going to be more discreet about it so children don’t have to see how much they weigh. The idea is to monitor kids – weighing them during first, third, seventh and tenth class (ages 6,8, 12 & 15) so that if a weight problem occurs, the school nurse can try steer a child towards a healthier fat-reducing lifestyle. Presumably though it will work the other way too – if a child is underweight, then that can be tackled too.

I can imagine what will happen though. All this data will be very useful in publishing surveys on which is the fattest kommune in Norway, which is the lightest town, what’s the fattest school in Norway, etc. Mmm. I’m not sure about this. Weighing kids seems quite an old-fashioned measurement of good/bad health and I certainly don’t weigh my children for fear it becomes a habit they can’t break as they grow into teenage girls.

My gut (!) instinct is that weighing kids in a school programme isn't going to do what it is intended to do; lead to a reduction in obesity. It'll just provide concrete data on the problem. Prevention is better than cure so perhaps it might be more efficacious to implement healthier eating habits and send these kids out onto the football pitch more frequently. Weighing them once they are already overweight, and then expecting them to lose it, seems a bit like putting the cart after the horse. But what do I know?

4 comments:

Cairo Typ0 said...

This is not going to be good. I would have been utterly traumatized as a kid if i had to weigh in at school. My nephew is worried he's too fat - he's 9! Kids shouldn't have to worry about their weight.

Joanne said...

I agree with you Jo, but if a kid is too embarrased to be weighed maybe they are over and could do with someone talking to them or their parents about it. My daughter is the opposite and people are on her case all the time, but she is slightly under for her age, but never sick and very active. My dietician friend reckons to only worry if she refuses chocs and macdonalds and she happily eats both.

beaverboosh said...

quite... soon we will be able to look up the body weight of all Norwegians on the internet next to their tax contributions...

Simply-Mel said...

This (to me) shows a real lack of understanding of the issue.

Weighing kids is the WORST thing you can do. It will create a society obsessed with weight/dieting instead of healthy lifestyle.

I dont (and never have) owned a scale and never talk about weight around my kids. We only ever talk about being active, outdoors and eating food that *fuels* our bodies in the best possible way.

Crikey, if Hollywood isnt enough to stuff up our girls (and boys) then school weigh-ins will certainly do it.

*rant over*