As a former obese child, I find the current proposal made by the Global Obesity Centre (GLOBE) at Deakin University to a Senate committee, regarding the weighing and measuring of school children in an attempt to gather data on the obesity rates and target communities most “at risk” abhorrent!
I remember the impact this had on me; being subject to such assessment by a teacher I wasn’t comfortable with, taking my measurements and recording them down for me to feel pretty shitty about! From an early age, chances are an obese child already knows they are fat; a classmate has probably ridiculed them for it! Further, subjecting the child to such humiliation is not the answer! The impact this has on their self-esteem is already enough knowing they are fat, compound this with the fact they are more likely to develop an eating disorders, or become subject to yo-yo dieting is already too high.
Why not a self-assessment made by the teachers? We don’t need to weigh and measure an obese child to know they are obese; you just need to look at them. If the data is not being recorded to a granular level of name and other personal details, why weigh and measure at all. Couldn’t a quick head count gather the same information? Yes it is more subjective, but you are saving many many children who are obese the shame of having this pointed out to them. (Not that the person measuring would point this out, but the self-doubt and loathing alone is enough.)
Furthermore, it’s probably not even the child’s fault they are obese! Why not measure and weigh the parents? Chances are if the child is obese, this is endemic to the parents! I have no study to back this up, but I am certainly a citizen of the community we are aiming to deploy this proposal upon, and I can clearly observe a trend when it comes to obese children and their parents! Is the expectation that parents would be subject to this kind of scrutiny about their weight as well? Imagine if we told all places of employment to measure and weigh their staff and report back please! The outrage would be enormous! So why subject our children to something that we ourselves as adults, wouldn’t even tolerate!
We all acknowledge there is an obesity problem, but rather than humiliate our children why not educate the parents about reading food labels? And healthy intake of daily portions of protein, carbs and sugar. Or go a step further and focus on the food companies themselves being strictly regulated to clearly identify what is a healthy option pointing out on the front of labels for example, sugar content per 100g!
Programs are already out there to educate parents about what is healthy and what isn’t, but sometimes these aren’t always affordable. I can list these off pretty easy, look at TiffXO, Tiffiny Halls holistic approach to healthy living inside and out resonates with a lot of people and is a proven success, you just need to see her page for results (this is my choice of program). Then there is The Healthy Mummy (personally I feel still involves too much sugar and carbs), Michelle Bridges 12 WBT (long term sustainability could be a problem) and even Pete Evans. You may not like or agree with everything he says, but cutting out sugar, reducing processed foods and implementing portion control will make a difference.
And if we really want to go out there and make an impact on obese families, rather than spending money to implement a program that will potentially further mentally scar children already at risk of suffering from mental health issues, compounding underfunded mental health services further in the future. Why not subsidized programs such as those already listed above for families who are obese. Set some parameters around them, the family needs to qualify, they need to want to change, they want help, and they can prove through results that it’s working. At least my proposal is trying something that won’t create further issues on an already struggling mental health system.
You can gather all the data you like on obese children, but really if a parent doesn’t want to be educated or help the child in the first place, this proposal by GLOBE is going to harm a lot of children who may be already suffering.
We need to educate and reinforce a positive relationship with healthy food; rather having our 7 year old’s comparing the figures on the scales with each other. Let’s not focus on the numbers, but focus on the bigger issue and support parents who want and need to be educated about the impact of unhealthy food and lack of exercise!
P.S. I am no longer an obese child, but an overweight adult according to the BMI (don’t get me started on this issue). I am re educating myself around food and making improvements every day, (thanks TiffXO). As I continue my journey of positive self-body image I will also be teaching my children at the same time. Eat healthy and love the skin your in!
Let me know your thoughts on this meaty topic below! 🙂