THERE is no denying that Britain, a.k.a. “the fat man of Europe”, has an obesity problem.
Now we know the related dangers of obesity — everything from heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, to Covid-19 — it goes without saying we must find a way to tackle it.
But the proposal by Tam Fry, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, that schools should weigh pupils every six months to “catch every child who is piling on the pounds” will surely create more problems than it solves.
Weight gain has been one of the many unwanted legacies of lockdown for many of us. And lots of parents have been alarmed to see their children stuck at home, in-active and putting on weight.
Mr Fry says: “Schools have to do something about this. We will have to measure pupils next month and again in spring to see if what has been creeping up during this enforced period of inactivity has been countered by being back at school.”
I could not agree more that schools need to do something about this issue. But bringing back weighing kids in schools is problematic.
Plenty of people have spoken up about how traumatic they found it being weighed at school, and the humiliation of being told they were overweight.
But much worse is how many people have said that was the trigger for a lifetime of disordered eating.
Jameela Jamil, the star of Netflix sitcom The Good Place, says: “Being weighed at school was truly the minute my eating disorder started at 12. I can trace it back to that exact day.”
Cycling champ Elinor Barker, who won gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics, reckons her own experience as an elite athlete shows “lighter is not always better”.
She says: “I was the heaviest I’ve ever been when I won the Olympics. At my lightest I could barely get through a training week.”
I have not heard anyone credit school weigh-ins with keeping them fit and healthy, with a balanced and positive relationship to food.
Weighing children is problematic for so many reasons. It sends the message that they alone are responsible for their weight, when in fact taking care of their bodies with the right food and exercise is as much down to their parents, their school and the adults around them.
But also, it becomes a form of body-shaming, and encourages children to focus only on the digits on the scales rather than the much bigger picture.
It can plant the seeds of a lifetime of difficulty around food and is very often counterproductive.
There are so many other ways to help children take responsibility for their own health.
Schools need to make sports fun, varied and accessible to all children.
In particular, they need to find ways to encourage teenage girls to participate, as this is the age when they often drop out of sports.
School meals need to be healthy and delicious.
And schools need to take meal times seriously and encourage children to do the same.
We also need to inspire children to want to be healthy and fit. What about more talks in schools from sportsmen and women on how to exercise and what to eat? They are such good role models.
Parents also have a massive role. We lead by example and if we have an unhealthy relationship with food, it’s likely our children will too.
If we teach children about what their body needs to work properly, and how to cook tasty, nutritious meals which deliver that, they will be engaged in a positive way that has nothing to do with shame or guilt.
HAPPY 62nd birthday, Madonna.
She and toyboy Ahlamalik Williams, celebrated with an extravagant bash at Jamaica’s GoldenEye resort.
And anyone who saw photos and videos of her shenanigans could be forgiven for thinking she is half her age.
As she left the island, she posted on Instagram: “Thank you Jamaica. We have picked your flowers, eaten your fruit, danced to your music, enjoyed every sunset.”
Whatever you think of her, there is something enviable about her ability to make the most of life.
I hope I look as good as she does at her age but, more importantly, I hope I am still having as much fun.
Some say: “Grow old gracefully.”
She proves it is much more fun to grow old disgracefully.
Celebrities have the potential to really make an impact and change lives – but not all of them do.
So I love the story this week that Taylor Swift has donated more than £23,000 to Vitoria Mario, a Tottenham teenager who started a GoFundMe appeal to become a mathematician, describing herself as a “black 18-year-old with a dream”.
Vitoria, had been offered a place at Warwick University to study maths but could not afford to take it because she did not qualify for a student loan.
When Taylor saw Vitoria’s GoFundMe appeal, she gave her the entire amount she had left to raise, along with a message saying: “I am so inspired by your drive and dedication to turning your dreams into reality . . . Good luck with everything you do! Love, Taylor.”
Imagine waking up to that message in your inbox.
Cynics might suggest that Taylor does things like this for the publicity.
But even if that is true, who cares?
Vitoria will never forget this and it will likely change her life for ever.
Also, how impressive that she found a way to follow her dreams and get the money she needs to go to university.
We could all take a leaf out of the book of Britain’s oldest coronavirus survivor.
At the grand old age of 107, she has revealed her secrets to staying healthy are eating an orange a day and “counting your blessings”.
Angela Hutor has lived through both World Wars, as well as the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918.
She caught Covid-19 in April and was so close to death that her daughter was called to hospital to say her final goodbyes. But Angela bounced back.
Her advice this week to family and friends is to keep calm and occupied.
Angela, from North London, is adamant Britain “will get through this” – and given all that she has survived, she should know.
So let’s all take that on board. This lady has a great attitude, something we should all adopt.
Frankie Bridge is under fire for posting a photo of her children watching iPads at the dinner table – with some people up in arms about how unacceptable it is.
But perhaps people in glass houses should not throw stones.
By which I mean that anyone who has children and wants to have a nice time knows kids are not always great at sitting through long, fancy dinners out.
Some people think going out to dinner is a treat and children should learn to behave properly.
But if you ask young kids to sit and wait for their food, they will get restless.
And there is a definite argument that going out to dinner should be a treat for the adults too.
If that means a bit of screen time for the kids while at the table, well, who am I to judge?
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