Too fat for school?

Should a child’s weight be included on their report card?

Professor Penington — a former Melbourne University vice-chancellor and dean of medicine — told an obesity summit in Canberra this week that the inclusion of weight in primary school reports could spark discussion between teachers and parents about their children’s diet and level of physical activity.

Theo Bougatsas, the Teachers Federation organiser for western Sydney, wouldn’t be drawn into commenting on whether the idea was positive or negative but did say more could be done to make school canteens healthier.

‘‘It’s a medical issue and we’re teachers [and] currently teachers are not provided with any medical expertise,’’ Mr Bougatsas said.

‘‘In high schools, PE (physical education) teachers do teach about health, so there are already discussions around health in schools, including practical lessons in diet.’’

A spokesman for the Department of Education and Communities said: ‘‘It’s not something we’ve had a chance to consider.’’

June Effendy of Acacia Gardens applauded the idea and went so far as to suggest going the way of Singapore, her home country.

She said that In Singapore, children — including primary-age children — identified as "quite overweight" were asked to run laps before school.

"It was good for my cousin," she said. "He became very fit."

Cartoon by Matt Davidson

Cartoon by Matt Davidson

She said she did sometimes feel it was mean to put students through this, but that the final results far outweighed the humiliation.

Our Facebook followers were less impressed with the report card model.

"Some children are naturally bigger or smaller and to bring in such a ridiculous thing would have to be telling children that they must conform to what is 'normal', or be a particular weight for their age," Kylie Hungerford commented.

"You don't have to have an athletic-looking body to be fit and healthy, and if you're a bit on the bigger side it doesn't necessarily mean that the person sits down watching TV or playing on the computer all day."

Michelle Wootton agreed with Mr Bougatsas.

"What qualifies a teacher with no nutritional qualifications to grade a child's weight?" she asked.

"The school system as it is, does not allow for A, B, C gradings academically. How could they grade them on an appearance level?"

Tracy Ford said the model was discriminatory.

"It [the child's weight] could be a medical problem or a gene problem," she said.

Marianne Grant-Staveley asked: "How is shaming kids going to change anything?"

The NSW Schools Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey data from 2010 shows that 22.8 per cent of children between 5 and 17 years of age were classified as overweight or obese.

The prevalence of overweight and obesity is higher among boys than girls and is also higher amongst lower socioeconomic groups.

Tell us what you think.

This story Too fat for school? first appeared on Hills News.


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