Throughout the world, childhood obesity is quickly becoming a significant problem for various healthcare services. Health problems associated with early weight gain, including a much higher risk of diabetes and heart conditions in adulthood, have been well documented. To counter these problems, a school in Shanghai has been creating special meals for their students, tailormade to the weight of each pupil.
The kindergarten has been adapting afternoon snacks for each individual. Overweight children are given vegetables, while underweight children are given meat and milk. Wang Yaqin, the head of the kindergarten, told People’s Daily that each meal is differentiated by each individual’s dietary needs. The custom meals are designed in consultation with dieticians so that the kids are given the best diet possible while they’re at school.
The menu includes Chinese cabbage, boiled bok choy and steamed pumpkin for the larger children, while the smaller children are given milk, meat balls and biscuits. In addition to the considerations given to weight, the school has also been changing the food for children when they are sick.
The policy has had a mixed reaction from the parents at the school. Some are happy to have their children receive the proper foods they need, while others are concered about the potential for “psychological damage” due to the differences in the treatment between the pupils. Liu Yeping, a psychologist and associate professor at the Counselling Center of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, while recognizing these potential problems, says that children need to be taught about the correct foods to eat and about the benefits of the exercise.
Clearly, this is a unique way of dealing with potential weight problems early on in a child’s life. Although there is disagreement about whether this policy is the way forward, only time will tell if this Shanghai school has managed to find a new way to solve early childhood weight issues.
[Image via People's Daily]