School weigh-ins may return amid fears of post-lockdown child obesity crisis
General / Mon 21st Jun 2021 at 08:46am
PUPILS are to be regularly weighed in primary schools in England for the first time in 18 months from this September amid fears the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the UK’s child obesity problem reports the Independent.
The measurements, designed to alert parents that their children are at risk of developing a weight problem, were cancelled in March 2020 as the country entered the first coronavirus lockdown.
Experts fear that since then a combination of homeschooling, less regular exercise and easier access to snacks has had a detrimental effect on the waistlines of the nation’s children.
But they say that since the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) was halted they cannot know the full extent of the problem.
Tam Fry, the chair of the National Obesity Forum, said: “We expect the figures will have gone up and we expect the results, when we get them, to be a real jolt to Boris Johnson.
“We have got to do something very serious about this problem. We cannot wait to the end of Covid. I am absolutely delighted that the [NCMP] is coming back.”
He said that while experts could not put a figure on how much weight children had put on since March last year, anecdotal evidence suggested that it was significant.
Even before the pandemic the UK had some of the highest rates of overweight children in western Europe. Around one in three children leaving primary school in England were overweight, with one in five classified as obese.
The problem was also getting worse. The latest available results from NCMP show that in reception class – ages four and five – the prevalence of obesity increased from 9.7 per cent in 2018-19 to 9.9 per cent in 2019-20. In year 6, that figure rose from 20.2 per cent 2018-19 to 21 per cent the following year.
Mr Fry called on ministers to respond to the Covid crisis by increasing the frequency of weigh-ins to once a year.
The full article can be read below.
IMHO, the food industry needs to take a lot more responsibility for our children's health. It puts me in mind of a passage from Alun Wessler's epic novel 'Odysseus' when the characters are contemplating the shelves of an all-night supermarket: ". ..Just think of your local supermarket. How many food and drink aisles has it got? Maybe about ten. Now think how many of them are stocked with healthy food. Ours has got one aisle with fruit and veg on both sides, and then if I think about fresh chicken, fish, beans, soya milk, olive oil and the like, I bet if you put them all together they wouldn't fill one aisle. So that means your average supermarket is full of about eighty percent, eighty percent toxic, carcinogenic, high calorie sh!te. You only have to look at other people's baskets and trolleys in front of you in the queue with all their white bread and cakes and crisps and fizzy pop. And they buy that s*!t not because they’re stupid, but because it’s peddled to them and presented as normal. It occupies eighty percent of the space on the shelves and everyone else buys it so it’s normalized. We’re gregarious creatures, tribe or herd animals, so we instinctively do what everyone else does. Just like in the fifties and sixties, smoking was normal for young adults, so lots of young adults smoked. It’s the same principle with eating cr@p food today. Most people are not scientists or nutritionists and they just go along with the flow...."