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Obesity fight: plan for height and weight checks of all children in schools

Claire Bickers, July 22, 2018 7:10PM News Corp Australia

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Kids playing soccer. Exercise is believed to be an important way to prevent obesity. media_cameraKids playing soccer. Exercise is believed to be an important way to prevent obesity.


Reading level: orange

Every Australian child’s height and weight would be measured and recorded in primary school unless parents chose to opt out* of the checks under a drastic* plan to improve Australia’s worsening* obesity* crisis*.

Checks would be done for all children in Year 1 and Year 6 at minimum*, or every two years at best, to better help the government completely understand Australia’s obesity crisis.

The Global Obesity Centre (GLOBE) — a research group based at Deakin University, Victoria, and working with the World Health Organisation on obesity prevention* — is urging* the government to begin the checks for all children, warning Australia is “lagging behind” countries such as the UK, France, Ireland and Canada in efforts to reduce obesity.

Saturday Childhood Obesity Photo media_cameraHelena and Alex know that it’s important to eat healthy food such as fruit and vegetables to help them stay a healthy weight. Picture: Dylan Robinson

In a report made to the federal government’s inquiry* into the nation’s “obesity epidemic*”, GLOBE says the checks, which would be compulsory unless parents opted out, would provide “meaningful*, timely* data” to identify* locations tackling obesity well and make sure resources* went to areas of greatest need.

Similar models are used in the UK and about half of the states in the US already as part of strategies* to tackle obesity.

Soft Drink media_cameraSienna and Amber enjoy a glass of soft drink for a treat. GLOBE is calling for a new tax on sugary drinks to make them more expensive to buy. Picture: Ian Currie

GLOBE is also calling for a new tax on sugary drinks that would raise their price by 20 per cent and for advertising on social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube for unhealthy food and drinks to be regulated*, as well as restrictions on advertising on free-to-air TV to be extended to 9.30pm.

Discussion and presentation sessions, called hearings, begin for the obesity epidemic inquiry in August.


Call to ban lollies at checkouts

Plan for compulsory PE at school

Why it’s hard to resist hot chips


opt out: elect not to take part

drastic: extreme

worsening: getting worse

obesity: the state of being very overweight

crisis: serious, immediate problem

minimum: the least or smallest amount

prevention: stopping something from happening

urging: asking strongly

epidemic: a disease that effects a lot of people

meaningful: has meaning, or means a lot

timely: at the right time

identify: notice or show

resources: staff, money and equipment

strategies: plans

regulated: controlled



1. Why could the checks be helpful for the government?

2. How does Australia rate on obesity prevention compared to other countries, according to GLOBE?

3. What other countries are already doing similar healthy checks?

4. Could parents choose for their children not to be checked?

5. What is GLOBE’s plan to make sugary drinks more expensive?


1. Healthy Living

Obesity is when you have too much body fat. There is a disturbing trend in Australia where obesity rates are rising in children. Being overweight causes lots of health problems and might not make you feel good about yourself.

Complete a poster outlining all the things you can do to live a healthy life and to help ensure you don’t become overweight. Draw some pictures to accompany your ideas and try to send positive messages. With permission from your teacher or principal, place your posters around the school encouraging healthy and active living.

2. Extension: What are the health and other issues facing children who are obese?

Time: Allow 30 minutes

Curriculum links: Health & Physical Education, English


After reading the article, with a partner, highlight all the openers you can find in blue. Discuss if they are powerful and varied openers or not. Why do you think the journalist has used a mix of simple and power openers? Would you change any, and why?

QUESTION: If you were in charge at your school, what would you do to help children stay fit, healthy and a healthy weight?
No one-word or emojis-only answers! Use full sentences.

Extra Reading in health