Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Chewing the fat over anti-obesity programs

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Back on the subject of childhood obesity again.

I previously expressed concern that, while accepting that childhood obesity was a problem that needed to be addressed, I wasn't sure that some of the approaches suggested weren't likely to cause more problems than they actually intended to resolve.

The latest news from Singapore seems to confirm that the proof of the pudding is indeed in the eating (poor pun intended)...

For the past 15 years, Singapore has run an anti-obesity program in its schools. The "Trim and Fit" program required children deemed overweight or obese to do vigorous exercise during breaks and after school until they reached a desired weight.

While the program achieved a measure of success in that it reduced the number of overweight children from 14 percent in 1992 to 9.5 percent last year, it also had a negative impact. The program was seen to stigmatise overweight children and led to problems with teasing and bullying of children in the program by their non-affected peers.

Complaints from families have now seen a revision to the program. Singapore has decided to replace the scheme with a more holistic approach, required to be undertaken by all children, irrespective of weight. The aim is to raise fitness levels but to also address mental and social health by promoting a healthy lifestyle overall.

Food for thought for all those currently involved in developing such programs.

And you did realise it's International Bad Pun Day, didn't you?


Singapore ending anti-obesity program after teasing


Avi said...

If you want to read an interesting first-person account of childhood obesity, check out:

HP said...

Hi Avi,
Thanks for dropping by and for the link. As you say, quite interesting to read.