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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fat or not, it is not just about BMI

Bmi wordmarkImage via WikipediaOne of our local news here...

Wednesday April 20, 2011

HEALTH Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai announced on Sunday that effective immediately the body mass index (BMI) of students would be listed on their report cards, and unhealthy foods and drinks would be banned from school canteens.
This was in response to data indicating that around 1.7 million, or 30%, of Malaysians are overweight, with another 30% considered obese.
Obesity is an associated risk factor for many chronic, non-communicable diseases, including diabetes (which is being detected more and more in younger Malaysians), heart disease and hypertension (high blood pressure).
So, will noting down a student’s BMI in his or her report card really help in the battle of the bulge?
Height and weight are already a standard part of our children’s report cards, and BMI – which is weight in kilogrammes divided by the square of height in metres (kg/m²) – is basically just an extension of that information.
Knowing a person’s BMI is helpful in the sense that it is currently accepted as a rough indication of the amount of body fat a person has.
It is by no means a totally accurate estimation. But it is a good enough approximation for most people in the general population.
Of course, just putting a number in the report card is not going to be of much use if there is no accompanying information to help parents and students interpret it.
However, this will not be as simple as the Health Ministry providing the Education Ministry with a single table of BMI measurements with their associated readings – underweight, normal, overweight, and obese – to include in report cards.
According to the US Centre for Disease Control, BMI measurements for children and teenagers are not static, unlike those for adults.
BMI measurements for those between two and 19 years need to have their age and gender taken into account in order to properly reflect their weight status in relation to their growth.
This means that, assuming all the students in one class are of the same age, the BMI table needs to be sorted out by gender for the same class. Similarly, for the whole school.
Which brings up two questions: how much of a school’s budget will have to go towards paying for all the new report cards that will have to be printed for every student.
And, with this in mind, how practical is it to really implement this idea immediately, especially as mid-year exams will be held within the next few weeks?
It is a good idea to raise awareness among parents as to their children’s weight status, but is the cost worth the benefit?
It may help children who are on the borderline of being underweight or overweight, but surely parents can see with their own eyes if their child is quite thin or fat.
Banning soft drinks and food with high sugar content from the school canteen is an excellent idea. However, this is an old issue, one that keeps popping up periodically over the years.
The guidelines from the ministries are there, but let’s face facts. First, canteen operators are business people, and kids love unhealthy foods; and second, enforcement is quite lax.
Our Government is concerned over our growing waistlines no doubt, and there are the committees and policies to prove it.
But all the best policies in the world will not help if there is no strict enforcement, especially when the change is difficult – you try convincing most kids that a piece of fruit is better than fried chicken nuggets!
And as we all know, banning unhealthy food from the school canteen will be fairly useless if students can just run outside the school gate to buy them from streetside vendors.
Controlling one’s diet is also just half the battle.
What about exercise? Physical Education (PE) lessons are always the first to be sacrificed when the exams are near; not to mention that, oftentimes, these lessons are not being taught seriously either.
The Education Ministry policy on this is clear. What we need now is strict enforcement by school heads and teachers, and equally importantly, parents and students to support (not dismiss) PE, as well as the 1Sport, 1Student policy.
At the end of the day, our children’s weight is their and their parents’ responsibility.
Some other ways to help solve this problem could be for parents to ensure that their kids have breakfast before leaving for school (yes, we are aware that it’s almost impossible to wake some kids up, but you are the parent), packing them healthy food for recess, and reducing their allowance so that they do not have the money to spend on junk food in the first place.
But kids just need to be taught right by their families, because once they are in school, what they eat is their own choice.
And enforcing a healthy diet in school will not help if parents are indulging those fast food and high calorie requests regularly

Taken from; source article is below:
More than just BMI

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