Primary teachers claim that helping children to focus more on healthy eating could be accomplished without much difficulty but the government's compelling towards getting children to eat healthier food could lead to clashes with their students.
A $67 million scheme has been unveiled by the government which is aimed at overcoming the obesity problem that threatens to lead to shorter life expectancies in the younger generation than their parents.
AdvertisementPPTA president Debbie Te Whaiti reports fears of having teachers check what is in lunch boxes and monitor what they are eating, both inside the school gate and at home.
According to Te Whaiti schools are being asked to address an increasing number of social problems that appear to be getting close to boundaries that perhaps should not be crossed. She inquired as to what a teacher should do if a family keeps supplying their children with unhealthy food.
NZEI president Irene Cooper also warns that what kids eat was not the prerogative of teachers only. In most cases parents are in control of what their children are eating according to Cooper.
Expanding waistlines have been linked to several problems, with 1,000 people dying annually from obesity related illness.
The National Heart Foundation has said that it would take a while for attitudes on health to change.
Medical director Professor Norman Sharpe warns that New Zealanders should not expect to see a rapid difference in waistlines. He states that overcoming the problem could take substantially longer than four years and probably even decades of attention to get the problem sorted.
However Sharpe believes that as long as it is set up and strongly started, the commitment is bound to be there. He says that while the government is indeed doing the right thing people's attitudes also have to change.
The message has been repeated many times and Shape concedes that there is a danger the public might turn off the healthy message. It is for that very reason that he says it is more important to get the community to buy in to the changes as well as influence the long term behavior of the next generation.