• Announcements

    • Evan Burton

      OPEN REGISTRATION BY EMAIL ONLY !!! PLEASE CLICK ON THIS TITLE FOR INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR REGISTRATION!:   06/03/2017

      We have 5 requirements for registration: 1.Sign up with your real name. (This will be your Username) 2.A valid email address 3.Your agreement to the Terms of Use, seen here: http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=21403. 4. Your photo for use as an avatar  5.. A brief biography. We will post these for you, and send you your password. We cannot approve membership until we receive these. If you are interested, please send an email to: edforumbusiness@outlook.com We look forward to having you as a part of the Forum! Sincerely, The Education Forum Team
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
John Simkin

Schools and Obesity

30 posts in this topic

A joint report published yesterday by the Royal College of Physicians, Royal College of Paediatrics and the Faculty of Public Health, urged the government to put together a coherent strategy to fight the obesity epidemic in Britain. The incidence of obesity in children is growing at an alarming rate. It more than trebled in 6 to 15 year olds from 5% to 16% between 1990 and 2001.

Schools have played an important role in this development of obesity. Probably the most important factor in this was the privatisation of the school meals service. In an attempt to maximize profits these companies have encouraged students to buy unhealthy foods in schools. This has been backed up schools providing vending machines in schools selling high-fat and high-sugar snacks. When challenged on this head teachers say they need this income to buy essential things for the school. It would seem everything has its price in 21st century Britain.

A recent study of lunch-boxes in West Sussex revealed that over 70% contained a bag of crisps. We now are faced with a generation of parents who see nothing wrong in giving their children rubbish. West Sussex is now developing a scheme where the children are being encouraged to produce their own healthy lunch-boxes.

I know some people believe that there is little we can do to reverse the trend in obesity. As educators, we have a responsibility to do what we can to tackle this terrible problem. We need to remind ourselves that schools can make a difference. Look for example how Finland have been able to reverse this trend in obesity in its young people.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
A recent study of lunch-boxes in West Sussex revealed that over 70% contained a bag of crisps. We now are faced with a generation of parents who see nothing wrong in giving their children rubbish. West Sussex is now developing a scheme where the children are being encouraged to produce their own healthy lunch-boxes.

As a parent I am constantly besieged by my 11 yo to include chips with lunch. "every" does it. He doesn't want to be the unusual one. But I insist and we "discuss". I am told that if school frowns on fatty food it infringes civil liberties.

Probably one weighty thought is that the fat levels are not important to the invincible young. Try telling them about clogged arteries and middle age spred. Even tooth decay will never happen to them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Members might be interested in the historical background in Britain for school involvement in the diet of its students (I would be very interested in what has happened in the past in other countries).

In 1892 Margaret McMillan joined Dr. James Kerr, Bradford's school medical officer, to carry out the first medical inspection of elementary school children in Britain. Kerr and McMillan published a report on the medical problems that they found and began a campaign to improve the health of children by arguing that local authorities should install bathrooms, improve ventilation and supply free school meals.

Margaret McMillan became the Independent Labour Party candidate for the Bradford School Board. Elected in 1894, and working closely with Fred Jowett, leader of the ILP on the local council, Margaret now began to influence what went on in Bradford schools. This included the introduction of free school meals. However, the scheme was declared illegal.

McMillan and Jowett tried to persuade Parliament to introduce legislation the encourage all education authorities to provide meals for children. McMillan argued that if the state insists on compulsory education, it must take responsibility for the proper nourishment of school children.

The 1906 General Election elected a Liberal government committed to social reform. Fred Jowett, was elected as the Labour MP for Bradford. Jowett's maiden speech was on the subject of school meals and eventually managed to convince Parliament that hungry children had trouble learning and in 1906 it passed the Provision of School Meals Act. This act permitted local authorities to provide school meals. However, local authorities were slow to respond to this legislation and by 1939 less than 50% were providing this service.

Margaret McMillan and her sister Rachael McMillan were both active in the suffrage movement. They also pioneered the idea of the nursery school in Britain.

Rachael died young but Margaret went on to establish a new college to train nurses and teachers. Named after her beloved sister, the Rachel McMillan College was opened in Deptford on 8th May, 1930. It is of course the origins of the McMillan nurses that do such a great job today.

Margaret McMillan died on 29 March, 1931. Afterwards her friend Walter Cresswell wrote a memoir of the McMillan sisters: "Such persons, single-minded, pure in heart, blazing with selfless love, are the jewels of our species. There is more essential Christianity in them than in a multitude of bishops."

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/Wmcmillan.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/WmcmillanR.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/TUjowett.htm

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thought you might be interested in this BBC news report on Obesity.

MPs from the health select committee are to visit Finland to investigate what lessons can be learnt about tackling obesity.

Their long awaited report into what should be done about our widening waistlines, is due to be published around Easter.

But as consumer groups call for tighter controls on the food industry, MPs are considering whether Finland's softly softly approach could work here.

Finland's problem in the 70's was coronary heart disease rather than obesity.

It had the highest rate of deaths from heart problems in the world, largely due to a flourishing dairy sector which played a big part in the Finnish diet.

But as a result of an assertive public education campaign - to promote exercise and healthy diet - it has escaped the escalating obesity rates now emerging in Britain.

In the 80's Finland's obesity rate was twice as high as ours - but in the years that followed, as Britain's obesity rate soared, our Nordic neighbours more or less contained the problem, experiencing only modest rises.

For instance, 19% of women in Finland are now classed as clinically obese.

In the UK the figure is closer to 26% and our children are getting fatter too.

So how have they done it?

Largely through assertive government campaigns and co-operation from the domestic food industry.

In this country, the accusation of presiding over a 'nanny state' is the worst form of insult that can be thrown at a politician.

But in Finland politicians seem to smart less at such allegations.

In Finland school kids are weighed annually and the results recorded in their end of year reports. If there's a problem the doctor is called in.

Each child receives a free school lunch which must comprise one third of their calorie intake, and exercise plays a prominent part in the school day.

It sounds like a perfect world, but it's not. Just like Britain the presence of vending machines in school worries parents.

But in Finland many sell water, and sugary drinks are banned from both classroom and dining hall.

And importantly this culture of healthy eating seems to continue into the home.

Finnish food firms have been forced to adapt too.

Not through fiscal measures or bans on advertising, but as a result of consumer demand, informed by decades of public health campaigns.

Some 30% of cheese on supermarket shelves is now low fat in Finland - compared to around just 10% in the UK.

The products are more expensive, but it seems the Finnish public is prepared to pay, and the social economic divisions that many argue defines British people's shape, are less of an issue here.

So is it a model that could be exported to the UK? It's hard to say - Finland is a small country with a population of just five million.

It has a high standard of education and, as a marketing manager of the Finnish dairy firm Vailo put it, "they have scientific minds" so the mechanics and medical benefits of keeping trim are well understood.

That might be a vast simplification - but it is about values: education and trust.

Unlike Britain Finland doesn't have the 'baggage' of major health scares like CJD.

As a result ministers and their medical advisors enjoy a greater degree of trust, so getting the public to respond to campaigns appears a more straightforward process.

Finland is also a homogeneous society, for many years isolated from the influences of the fast food world, so it has been a market that is been easier to control.

With the growing presence of multi-national corporations in Finland the hard part will be sustaining those gains.

Bodies like the World Health Organisation are signalling a global obesity epidemic ahead - already 300 million people world wide are dangerously overweight.

But if there is one lesson to be learnt from the Finnish experience, it is that results in decades to come require education, education, education now.

Other interesting articles on this subject can be found at:

http://www.wistv.com/Global/story.asp?S=1633568&nav=0RaPKfJa

http://www.helsinki-hs.net/news.asp?id=20040113IE15

http://www.helsinki-hs.net/news.asp?id=20040217IE17

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Obesity is becoming a problem in the“rich” countries and this phenomenon is counterbalanced unfortunately by starvation in other parts of the world.

The nutritional education starts since the first days of the baby. When the child enters the school, a basic work on the baby /child metabolism has been done. So the first education about the nourishment has to begin in the family.

The teachers will continue and /or strength the food education.

If the parents let understand their children the value of the healthy (unpackaging) food, they will become conscious and not only will accept to take with them the lunch bag, but also probably can explain to their class mates why they do that.

.

Then let us educate the children, but first or at the same time let us start educating the parents.

:P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sweden is also suffering from a rise in the incidence of obesity, although the situation here is much more like Finland than the UK.

School lunches are free in Sweden, and there are very careful checks on the nutritional value of the food. I'm a vegetarian, and I've had several conversations with school catering managers about vegetarian food for my daughter, for example.

Children learn about nutrition at school, right from pre-school classes, and there's a lot of physical activity at school. Sometimes this is organised sport, but there are other activities too, such as hikes, open-air lessons, etc. I remember my daughter working with a couple of friends building a shelter, making a fire and cooking a meal (under the supervision of a teacher) outdoors … when she was 8.

Of course, there's a lot more open countryside here and it's a lot easier to get to.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The House of Commons Health Select Committee published its report on obesity. It points out that obesity in the UK has grown almost 400%. Over three-quarters of the adult population are now overweight (22% are obese). Childhood obesity has tripled in 20 years. The report points out the link with obesity and cancer, heart-disease, diabetes and renal failure. It quotes one example of a six stone 3 year old child who died of a heart-attack.

The report calculates that it is costing England £7.4bn a year (this figure will increase rapidly over the next few years). Although critical of the government’s performance the report provides no real answers to the problem and backs the currently policy of voluntary agreements with the food manufacturing industry.

Today’s Guardian reports that it has obtained documents that show that the food industry is exploiting sophisticated techniques to market to children without their parent’s knowledge. It quotes the example of Kellog’s Real Fruit Winders. The product does contain real fruit but it has been processed and supplemented with sugar and hydrogenated fat. Sugars make up a third of the product and it recently won the yearly Tooth Rot award. The product was initially marketed exclusively to children through the magazines they read. They also created microsites on existing websites popular with children. The advertising agency says it managed to reach 60% of children using this strategy. It was only after this that it started TV advertising to reach mothers who are seen as the main purchasers.

I am interested in how other countries are dealing with this problem. Are your schools playing a role in this?

http://society.guardian.co.uk/publichealth...1225581,00.html

http://society.guardian.co.uk/publichealth...1225589,00.html

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One of the major reasons for obesity is the use of hydrogenerated ingredients in manufactured food. It is also a major killer. According to a Consumers’ Association report, heart attacks and strokes could be cut by a quarter if food manufacturers cut their use of hydrogenated ingredients by just 2.4%.

The hydrogenation process involves treating good vegetable oils with hydrogen at high temperatures. This turns them into a hard saturated fat, to give a longer shelf-life to ready meals, etc. In the body this creates LDL (bad cholesterol). Small particles of LDL squeeze under blood vessel linings, narrowing passageways with a build-up of fatty plaques that can lead to strokes and heart-attacks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Polly Toynbee, in today’s Guardian, argues that obesity is a class issue. She points out: “Fat is a class issue, but few like to admit that most of the seriously obese are poor… True, many of us middle classes are overweight, but most of the dangerously obese - the 22% with a body-mass index in the red zone - are to be found carless on council estates and not in the leafy suburbs where kids are driven to school in supertanker 4x4s. It is poor children at most risk of swelling up like balloons, in danger of losing limbs and eyesight to diabetes as they grow up.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,...1226522,00.html

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Two key issues stand out here:

Parents are essentially in control of their own childrens' dietary needs for many years; the Jesuits tell us that they need just the first seven years to show us the adult within us.

Margaret Hilda Thatcher was the Education Secretary who first implemented the idea that schools should not pander to the dietary requirements of the nation's school children. Of course, that was an economic measure that has had very far reaching social consequences.

As a parent of three of my own children and one step son I am proud to say that I have worked tirelessly with them to help them appreciate the need for balance. I told them often enough that there's nothing wrong with a beefburger or a plate of fish and chips (although I am a lacto ovo vegetarian of many years' standing): However, two key issues are important

it's far better to prepare all of your own food since you will be very unlikely to add very many ingredients beginning with the letter E

keep your diet in balance

My children are all now adults or near adults and they have not suffered from my regimen: quite the reverse, they are all slim and eat wisely.

I also enjoyed playing football and so on with the boys (one girl only, I'm afraid!) and they are all also relatively active still.

I am afraid that when I see obese children wobbling down the street I feel sorry for them and feel that their parents should just about be considered as criminals for the acts or omission or commision that they have perpetrated.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
it's far better to prepare all of your own food

I think that Duncan has summed up the solution in a nutshell! If parents prepared meals using fresh ingredients, and involved their children in the pleasures of cooking, them obesity would reduce significantly. The trouble is that this takes time and effort! It is, after all, so much easier to dash into a supermarket after work and grab 'tasty', attractively packaged, precooked 'meals' to throw into a microwave and, hey presto, dinner is ready! Alternatively, give the kids some cash to go to the 'chippie' for a large packet of deep fried, salt covered, tasty fish and chips (or the like)! Problem solved!! People, unfortunately, are inherently lazy and the more convenience foods that are available, the more they are advertised and therefore 'in', the more people will buy them.

If this culture continues, fewer children will have the experience of real cooking and will therefore be unable to teach it to their children in turn. Although schools can provide some of the skills and knowledge, can they really be expected to adequately cover the range of experience that a child would gain from daily cooking at home?

I fear that obesity is a much bigger problem than simply saying children are overweight, should eat less fatty foods and should do more exercise. :plane

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our Prime Minister has a sure fire solution - as all PMs do - leave it to the schools and introduce compulsory sport and PE daily. Then if that doesn't work it won't be the parents (read: voters') fault, just the teachers' who don't matter because they vote Labor anyway!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Today another solution has been found to the obesity problem .... a call has gone out for all advertising of junk food on TV to be banned before the 9p.m 'watershed'. That's because all children are in bed by then so they won't be influenced by it ... right?!? :tomatoes

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Are we now all such hopeless incompetents that we have to have central government to inform us that a diet high in fat and sugar will lead to obesity?

Moreover is it desirable for government to take, and more importantly for us to expect them to take, such a role? I think not.

Perhaps I should consider suing the owner of the chip shop at the end of my road? After all nowhere on the newspaper he wrapped my chips in was the warning that excessive intake of said product could lead to obesity, to say nothing of the harmful effects of the ink. A clearer case of double negligence on his part it would be hard to find. Similarly the off-licence next door has never informed me in big print and simple words that an excess of their product could lead to drunkenness. I am clearly a victim of malicious social forces….. there must be someone I can sue? Perhaps I should sue Nanny?

:unsure:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Are we now all such hopeless incompetents that we have to have central government to inform us that a diet high in fat and sugar will lead to obesity?

Moreover is it desirable for government to take, and more importantly for us to expect them to take, such a role? I think not.

Perhaps I should consider suing the owner of the chip shop at the end of my road? After all nowhere on the newspaper he wrapped my chips in was the warning that excessive intake of said product could lead to obesity, to say nothing of the harmful effects of the ink. A clearer case of double negligence on his part it would be hard to find. Similarly the off-licence next door has never informed me in big print and simple words that an excess of their product could lead to drunkenness. I am clearly a victim of malicious social forces….. there must be someone I can sue? Perhaps I should sue Nanny?

:blink:

Andy raises a very important point about the debate on child obesity. To what extent should government’s introduce legislation in order to persuade people to behave in certain ways. Currently there is quite a backlash against what people call the development of the Nanny State. This has been led by the right-wing press (Daily Mail, Sun, Daily Telegraph, etc.). To be called a “do gooder” is nearly as bad as being described as a socialist. The intellectual argument against the “Nanny State” is that it creates severe restrictions on human freedom. This dates back to the 1980s when Margaret Thatcher began her attack on the Welfare State. She could not mention the Welfare State by name as it was too popular so the term was changed to the “Nanny State”.

This is not a new argument. The debate began before Britain developed into a parliamentary democracy. At the end of the 18th century social reformers began to campaign for legislation that would protect people from “themselves”. This included factory legislation to protect child workers. It was argued that working long hours was severely damaging the children’s health. The factory owners responded by putting forward doctors who claimed that children (some as young as five years old) working in cramped and set positions, a damp environment, with dangerous, unguarded machinery, for long periods of time, did not damage their health. In fact, they provided facts and figures that their health was actually better than those working outside factories. These doctors, like those who support the eating of unhealthy foods today, were being paid to make these statements (either directly or by the fact they were employees of the factory owners). History shows us that doctors can always be bought.

In parliament the factory owners and their paid representatives argued that this was really an issue of freedom of choice. Surely parents should have the freedom to send out their children to work in order to increase the family income. However, as the parents pointed out to those willing to listen, they had no choice: if their children did not work in the factories, the family would starve. Gradually, with the help of factory owners like Robert Owen and John Fielden, and against the advice of advocators of free choice (including liberal newspapers like the Guardian), the government passed legislation to protect the health of our children. In Britain this took place in the 19th century. In the United States they had to wait until the 20th century. In the underdeveloped world they still have the freedom to send their children to work for long hours in factories.

This struggle to protect the health of children against the capitalist system (sorry, free enterprise) continued throughout the 20th century. This included the provision of school meals, free milk, compulsory medical inspections, free eye tests, etc. It was claimed that we could not afford it (as if we could not afford to take such measures). Gradually they were introduced but during the reign of Thatcher many of these services were either removed or undermined.

We are constantly being told that “little government” is “good government”. This is a philosophy that has been embraced by our current government. Not that they really believe this. They spend a larger percentage of the GNP than ever before. The difference is that they spend it differently. The way the money has been collected has also changed. Progressive taxes like income tax has been reduced but indirect, regressive taxes, have been increased. In doing so the gap between the rich and the poor has widened.

The argument goes that people now have more money in their pockets and are therefore free to spend it as they like. If they decide to spend their money on cigarettes, alcohol, fast foods, etc., that is up to them. However, people make decisions based on the information they receive and the price they are charged for the goods. Governments have always used the tax system to influence people’s decisions. How much someone drinks or smokes is influenced by the price of these goods. One way of reducing the consumption of these goods is to increase the tax on them.

One of the reasons people buy fast foods is that they are perceived as being cheap. I am not suggesting that the government should impose taxes on these foods to make them expensive. After all, the majority of the population is clearly addicted to these foods. However, the government could insist that manufacturers remove some of the more harmful ingredients in these foods such as the use of hydrogenated fats. They could also make sure that healthy, rather than unhealthy foods, are available in schools.

The debate about the government regulation of food and drink is very similar to the one that took place about child labour in the 18th and 19th centuries. Should the people be protected from the system’s desire to maximise the profits of the capitalist. I believe it should and that is why I am a “do gooder” and a supporter of the Nanny State (although I prefer to describe myself as a socialist and a supporter of the Welfare State).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0