Increased rates of childhood obesity in Australia have ignited a flurry of concern within the school system, sparking an unexpected new trend. Lunchbox inspections have become a regular occurrence in many schools across the country. This practice however has raised questions regarding the right of schools to intervene in how parents choose to raise their children.
According to Associate Professor Michael Gard from the school of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences at the University of Queensland this kind of intervention infringes the rights of parents to choose how they raise their children. Gard described the practice as ‘invasive’ and ‘unlikely to deliver health benefits of any kind’. In fact, he warns that the effects may be detrimental, often causing embarrassment in the child and anger in parents.
Gard further opined that this type of interference is ‘dispiriting’ because it insinuates that schools and teachers know more about what types of foods children should be eating than parents themselves.
While monitoring what children eat during school hours is a positive practice in the context of growing obesity, it is clear that inspecting lunchboxes may not be the most effective way of improving children’s health. Gard deduces that the issue of school lunchbox inspections is part of a much broader debate regarding the role of schools in the health needs of their students.
Source: University of Queensland