Today’s Sydney Morning Herald reports on the latest — and mega controversial — developments in Britain’s public schools: “[elementary] school [students] identified as overweight will automatically be offered a place on a state-funded diet and exercise scheme.”
Here’s how it will work:
- At the beginning of this school year, all elementary school students will be weighed
- Weights will also be recorded at the end of the school year
- At that time, parents will receive a report that identifies their child(ren) as underweight, healthy, overweight, or very overweight
- Children who do not fall into the “healthy” category will be offered state-funded weight management services for the summer. Those identified as ‘very overweight’ will also be referred to pediatricians
Some parent associations are up in arms, claiming that branding children as overweight will encourage bullying, and that this measure is akin to a dictatorship. I say — bollocks!
How, exactly, does this measure encourage bullying? Results are confidential and only shared with parents, not the student body.
The unfortunate truth is that if a child is obese, he or she is probably already a target of mean-spirited harassment by classmates. An official — and confidential — classification is a moot point.
In fact, teachers could take advantage of this new policy to address body image issues in the classroom.
In middle school, I was relentlessly made fun of by my gym class for being a horrible basketball and baseball player (whenever I see a baseball glove I twitch and mentally take myself to a “happy place”), but that doesn’t mean I would support the removal of physical education from school curricula.
As for cries of “dictatorship”? Unwarranted. Parents are being offered — not forced to send their children to — weight management services.
I have spoken to so many parents of overweight children who feel so impotent and helpless and, from what they’ve told me, would be thrilled to receive this type of support and help from schools.
I think the real issue here is that parents don’t want to hear that their children are overweight because they somehow perceive that as a critique of their parenting skills. This is not an “identify the bad parents” initiative!