Finland's weight control program for children

Wild_ChickenFebruary 5, 2004

Finland's Fight Against Fat

12:50 PM PST on Wednesday, February 4, 2004


Children at the cutting edge of Finland's fight against fat. On the playground of their school near Helsinki it may be freezing, but they're not allowed to sit around inside. At the end of every lesson there's a compulsory exercise break.

School lunches are free, and the only option for the kids.

School lunches are free, and the only option for the kids.

Fatty snacks like crisps and chocolates and fizzy drinks are banned.

There's only skimmed milk to drink, and if they're still hungry crisped bread and low-fat margarine to fill them up. It's all eaten at their desk, with teacher playing a key role in educating their palates.

"We never talk about hamburgers or these sorts of things, or pizzas or something like that," said teacher Henna Pirskanen.

A close eye is kept on the children's weight. Every pupil is weighed once a term, and if the teachers are worried about them getting too fat, they'll be sent to see the nurse, who checks they're having a balanced diet.

"If you ask people in the surveys, they say 'Yes, of course we know it, but it's so difficult in real life because of what food industry does, what catering does. We would like it to be easier for us'. So government has to intervene," said Pekka Puska of the Finnish National Health Institute.

Finnish families have taken the government's advice, attending evening classes together.

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Thanks for the info, beege.

I just got back from my internist (who is also a pediatrician), and his nurse told me they are seeing more and more overweight children who are at risk for diabetes. He blames it on poor diet and inactivity.

It's hard to say what should be done at this point in the United States; however, I feel there is way too much junk food available to children in schools.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2004 at 2:45PM
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Our state is getting rid of sodas and the candy machines in the schools. I think Finland's plan is a tad too controlling, but, if children don't learn these good eating habits early----then many become overweight.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2004 at 10:27AM
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I totally agree with what they are doing as far as the diet is concerned and would like to see it implemented here. OUr children and grandchildren are being done irreparable harm with what they are being allowed to eat.

I agree with the exercise only up to a point. When it is cold outside they need a gym in which to exercise instead of being forced to go outside.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2004 at 3:07PM
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