'Overweight kids traumatized by public weigh-ins'
MK says when nurses weigh students, competition and comparison are created in class, which can be embarrassing.
Overweight brother and sister sitting on a sofa Photo: Thinkstock/Imagebank
Although being too thin or too heavy is not healthy, overweight children are
often traumatized and stigmatized at school when they are weighed in front of
the class. This was brought up Monday at a session of the Knesset Committee on
the Rights of the Child, chaired by MK Orly Levy-Abecassis (Yisrael
The MK said that when nurses weigh the children, competition
and comparison are created in the class, which can become embarrassing for those
who are not within the normal range. Parents, she said, say they do not
know how to cope with it.
“Children come in many sizes,” said expert
Ayelet Kalter. “Weight is not a measure of health. Ninety-five percent of those
who lose weight gain it back five years after their diet. Overweight and obese
children are the most sensitive. They are endlessly anxious over parents who
want to ‘save’ them from their weight and don’t know how to help them to slim
“In our society, the overweight child is regarded as representing
the parent, and if he is fat, it testifies to the parent being a failure,”
She charged the media with “delegitimizing the
overweight, who are always depicted as lazy, as a joke. They feel they have to
suit themselves to norms that are impossible for them.”
Over 40% of
overweight adults polled in Oklahoma said their childhoods were painful and they
were hated and ridiculed. The worst outcome is if overweight children believe
they deserve the bad image with which they are perceived.
girl who spoke to the committee said she was always fat. “I went through many
diets, at least 10 or 15, and I only gained weight. There was a lot of pressure
from the family. Whenever we went to my grandfather for pizza, my mother always
asked what we were eating. My grandfather told me that he prepared a special
salad for me instead. Everybody enjoyed themselves, while I ate the
Parents’ good intentions can backfire, said Levy-Abecassis, whose
previous career was modeling. The statements before the committee “give
us a new perspective. I call on the educational system to train teachers
how to transmit egalitarian models to children and to weigh them in a discreet
way, without giving them immediate results.”
The committee also asked the
Health Ministry, which is responsible for the School Health Service, to report
back on how it implements the committee’s decisions.