Jeremy Vine viewers have criticised the proposal to weigh children in schools as “disgusting” and “damaging”.
On Monday’s episode of the topical Channel 5 debate show, panellists Ash Sarkar and Martin Daubney discussed calls from the National Obesity Forum for children to be weighed in school in September to make sure they are losing their lockdown weight gain.
During the show, Daubney, a former Brexit Party MEP for West Midlands, said he supported the initiative.
“I am in favour of this,” he said. “I have two kids, both of which were weighed. My boy is tall and big-boned and came in as obese. He doesn’t look it.
“It is a potential oversight of this but actually as myself and my partner who is a TA, so she works in this environment. You know one-third of kids are now starting secondary school obese as reports say, now that is a problem.”
He added: “And we have to accept now that obesity kills more than smoking in the UK. We worry more about feelings over facts.”
In response, political activist Sarkar argued that weighing children could have a negative effect on their mental health and body image.
“It didn’t make your kids feel shamed and that’s great but I have spoken about it before, but I have a difficult relationship with body image, weighing myself a lot, having a sense that people were looking at me and judging me a lot,” she explained.
“It gave me such, not just a bad relationship with food but terrible relationship to exercise. What I am saying is that these things can be counter-productive.”
The official Jeremy Vine On 5 Twitter followed up the debate with a tweet, asking: “Should schools weigh pupils to make sure they shift the pounds they’ve put on during the lockdown?”
The question caused a stir with viewers on social media, with many branding the proposal as “damaging”.
“My daughter is recovering from anorexia. It’s her first attempt at school soon after a lost year. Can’t tell you how disastrous this would be for her and others,” one parent wrote.
Another tweeted: “As a mother of a child with an eating disorder, it’s a big fat NOPE from me!!!.”
Jameela Jamil, who campaigns for body neutrality through the "I Weigh" community, also shared her views on the proposal.
“Hard pass. Being weighed at school was truly the minute my eating disorder started at 12,” she wrote.
“I can trace it back to that exact day. Understand that size is not an indicator of health and just teach children about nutrition, make exercise fun and stop serving them dogshit at lunch.”
Jamil added: “See also: The BMI can f*** off too.”
The debate comes after Tam Fry, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, said some children will struggle to fit into their school uniforms when they return to school in September because they will have spent six months snacking and doing little or no exercise.
As a solution, he proposed that schools should weigh pupils every six months to “catch every child who is piling on the pounds.”
“Schools have to do something about it. We have to measure them in September and again in spring to see if what has been creeping up during this enforced period of inactivity has been countered by being back at school,” he said.
“I would hope that if a child had a BMI of 19 that in six months it would have come back down. If it hasn’t we are in trouble.”
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies