We got back from holiday last week and I was greeted by the gremlin’s results from her school weigh in.
School weigh ins. A topic I see that can bring up a lot of emotion and controversy.
I see so much over social media around the time kids get weighed at school and usually very negative stuff. People think the results are wrong. They think kids shouldn’t be getting weighed at all and the whole programme is a waste of time. People are actually outraged when their child is classed as overweight and see the result as inaccurate and upsetting. Justified feelings indeed but what are my thoughts on school weigh ins?
I’m going to write my thoughts as both a health professional and mother, as they are conflicting and I won’t lie, changeable, especially since being a parent. So hear me out.
I’ll admit pre-kids and even now, I read these threads on social media and was and am irritated. Annoyed even. A recent article on the BBC News stated 60,000 young people are classed as obese at the end of primary school (Year 6). Being an overweight child increases the risk of becoming an overweight adult and therefore intervening early is a good thing. Children are still consuming too much sugar, not active enough. What we also know is people don’t always see that their child is overweight. They can be blinded to it. Of course it is a horrible thing to hear or read in black and white; your child is overweight. BMI is crude and isn’t always accurate for all but it’s a good indicator and can be useful. Some children may be only very slightly into the overweight range and of course some children will just “grow out of it” in time but it is important to be bearing healthy eating and exercise in mind. There are initiatives the government do provide to help; Change for Life and support programmes to help your child move from the potential track to obesity and it’s associated complications. With my professional hat on it is a useful tool and instead of being angry and offended by the result, perhaps be grateful you and your child are getting support. I sometimes think we are scared to talk about being overweight and obese, to even bring it up but for children, it is so important.
I do however feel children should not be told they are getting weighed to check if they are overweight or healthy and it should be done as privately and as nonchalantly as possible. You don’t of course need to tell your child they have to lose weight or exercise, just make the changes subtly and even better, do it as a family.
Harsh? I don’t know. Perhaps I am blinded by my profession as a dietitian and passion to keep active and eat healthily. All I do know is burying heads under the sand when it comes to health is never a good thing.
However, when we had the note that my eldest was getting weighed at school and I wasn’t sure how I felt. Alongside another parent, I did feel concerned. Weirdly I had never even checked her BMI! I knew she was always on the same centile but there was a niggling, irrational and unfounded worry; what if she is overweight?! I wanted to know if they were getting told what was happening and how and where they were getting weighed. I even asked the teacher some very specific questions to make sure! It was strange being in the parent seat, seeing it from a different perspective. I knew deep down my eldest was fine but half of me didn’t want her to get weighed in case. Sounds crazy eh?
It turned out she was totally fine and healthy. I knew this but I feared the result and how I would explain it to her if not fine. I wouldn’t of course! Also it was handled well at the school. She told me about her eye test and being measured for her height but that was it. Weight was nothing to her and at 4 years old, this is how it should be.
So where do I stand on this as a parent and dietitian. I have to still say I agree with the weigh ins. The results may be painful and something you don’t want to have to face and certainly not involve your child in but if left? What is worse? An unhealthy adult hurtling down the path to health problems?
Weight is a difficult topic to handle and every person should be treated individually with the BMI result scrutinised if appropriate.
There is help and support if needed. It’s taking the result and just thinking about small changes that will help, such as increasing activity levels. There are lots of activities children can get into whether it be after school sports, swimming lessons or even trying a new sport like golf, where there is lots of support to try this on the Mizuno golf page. Children are not doing enough. It’s worth doing some research into new activities.
It may also be making small sugar swaps. Low sugar drinks, instead of full sugar, crackers instead of biscuits and fruit instead of sweets.
Your child is the most important thing in the world to you, so their health and future must be too.
Disclosure – this is a collaborative post.