The Irish Medical Organization (IMO) has revealed a proposal to weigh children on their first day of school in an attempt to combat Ireland’s rising obesity epidemic.
Under the proposed scheme, which is being discussed by specialists, doctors, the Health Service Executive (HSE), and Department of Health Officials, children as young as four will be tested for signs of obesity.
This move is being considered as the number of childhood obesity cases in Ireland continues to rise.
Director of human health and nutrition at Safefood, Doctor Clíodhna Foley-Nolan, said weighing children needs to be normalized and treated in the same way as an eye test.
She said combating childhood obesity in Ireland would entail parental education and a cultural shift. This change, and having children weighed in school, can not be viewed as negative, insulting or something which could stigmatize a children.
The expert told the Irish Examiner “I am not sure the first day of school would be the best time, but we need to monitor children’s weight.”
The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that one-in-five Irish children and teenagers aged five to 17 are overweight or obese. However four out of five of these children are thought to be average weight, by their parents.
The International Obesity Task Force reports that 200 million schoolchildren are overweight with 40 to 50 million of these reaching an obese level.
Doctor Edna Roche, consultant pediatric endocrinologist at Tallaght Hospital, Dublin, and head of pediatrics at Trinity College revealed the plan on Friday after the organization’s annual general meeting.
Here’s a Safefood clip looking at obesity in Ireland: