Pupils face new weight tests
CHILDREN across North Somerset are being weighed before they leave primary school in the latest move to combat childhood obesity
CHILDREN across North Somerset are being weighed before they leave primary school in the latest move to combat childhood obesity.Youngsters in reception classes have been weighed by school nurses for years but, from this month, 10 and 11 year olds will also be told to climb on the scales. The aim is to see how well North Somerset Council's plans to tackle obesity in the district's children are progressing. The authority has introduced the initiative for older primary school aged children despite reports from elsewhere in the UK that weighing year six pupils has led to bullying. These claims have been rubbished by the council's executive member for children and young persons, Peter Kehoe.Cllr Kehoe said: "I do not think a child needs to get on the scales before being called 'a fatty'."We as a nation have a problem with childhood obesity. Parental education is vital as, in some cases, it is they who make their child's packed lunched and dictate the way they eat at home."Director of anti-bullying organisation Actionwork, Andy Hickson, said: "Care must be taken to ensure this new practice does not lead to anyone who feels insecure about their weight receiving nasty comments from bullies who would use the opportunity to get at their victim."Even queuing can be a reason for ridicule if a child is particularly sensitive about their weight."Headteachers and schools governors have been asked to support the initiative and parents have been written to for their consent to allow school nurses to weigh their children. Primary care trusts (PCTs), which employ school nurses, have been asked to weigh and measure year six children twice a year to maintain a closer eye on the problem of overweight children. North Somerset PCT's head of health improvement, Mary Hart, said: "This project is about monitoring targets set a year ago by central Government to halt the year-on-year rise obesity in children under the age of 11." The scheme will be part of a combined effort on behalf of schools, parents and health authorities to confront childhood health issues. Many schools have already banned the sale of fizzy drinks, introduced healthier meals and encouraged pupils to take more exercise.