PUPILS are to be regularly weighed in primary schools in England for the first time in 18 months from this September amid fears the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the UK’s child obesity problem reports the Independent.
The measurements, designed to alert parents that their children are at risk of developing a weight problem, were cancelled in March 2020 as the country entered the first coronavirus lockdown.
Experts fear that since then a combination of homeschooling, less regular exercise and easier access to snacks has had a detrimental effect on the waistlines of the nation’s children.
But they say that since the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) was halted they cannot know the full extent of the problem.
Tam Fry, the chair of the National Obesity Forum, said: “We expect the figures will have gone up and we expect the results, when we get them, to be a real jolt to Boris Johnson.
“We have got to do something very serious about this problem. We cannot wait to the end of Covid. I am absolutely delighted that the [NCMP] is coming back.”
He said that while experts could not put a figure on how much weight children had put on since March last year, anecdotal evidence suggested that it was significant.
Even before the pandemic the UK had some of the highest rates of overweight children in western Europe. Around one in three children leaving primary school in England were overweight, with one in five classified as obese.
The problem was also getting worse. The latest available results from NCMP show that in reception class – ages four and five – the prevalence of obesity increased from 9.7 per cent in 2018-19 to 9.9 per cent in 2019-20. In year 6, that figure rose from 20.2 per cent 2018-19 to 21 per cent the following year.
Mr Fry called on ministers to respond to the Covid crisis by increasing the frequency of weigh-ins to once a year.
The full article can be read below.