The prevalence of childhood obesity is regularly raised in the media. I was intrigued to read that in California nearly all public schools have been keeping track of the weight, height and Body Mass Index (BMI) of their students in Years 5, 7 and 9 for nearly 10 years.
The article reported that some schools didn’t report the information to parents. The author also noted that many times when concerns were passed on to parents, little or no action took place.
Given the rising prevalence of childhood obesity in Australia, I am surprised that proponents haven’t as yet been advocating for such data to be included on the MySchools website.
My immediate fear was that this could be yet another area where societal issues are deferred to the school to address.
Schools are often seen as the solution for societal issues and this places additional demands and stress on staff in schools. An increase in abandoned animals at Christmas time often leads for cries of better education on animal welfare, high numbers of informal votes in elections lead to calls for a heavier emphasis on teaching democracy and an increase in bankruptcies is accompanied by calls for better financial education in schools, to name a few.
The issue of health and wellbeing is an area that has received recent attention in many schools. Queensland schools for example of been expected to implement the Smart Moves strategy and review the appropriateness of tuckshop menus.
However the issue of childhood obesity IS an issue that PARENTS must accept responsibility for and take action against, in partnership with their child’s school and broader government and community programs. The cost implications of NOT addressing this issue is significant.
Whilst it may be controversial, I am not averse to including the weight, height and BMI information about students on their report cards. Good schools focus on the allround development of students and not just their academic achievements.
Perhaps the school grounds could be utilized after hours by government agencies including the Health Dept and Family Services to provide programs to target children who need to be more active.
What are your thoughts?