Earlier this month, a small Shanghai kindergarten made national news for a controversial plan about handing out afternoon snacks. Located in Jiading District, the kindergarten has over 130 students. In the afternoon, these kids get two different menus to snack on.
Underweight children are served: eggs, milk, meat balls and biscuits.
While overweight children get: boiled Chinese cabbage, boiled Bok choy, boiled baby cabbage, boiled lettuce and steamed pumpkin.
Wang Yaqin, the kindergarten’s principal, said that the separate menus were created with health considerations in mind and through the suggestions of dietitians. While the kindergarten likes to talk about the benefits of its plan, it’s important to note that it’s only applied to the (rather large?) afternoon snack, the kids eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch.
The school categorizes who is overweight and underweight based on national health standards. Before implementing the plan, teachers first surveyed parents and got their permission, Xinhua reports.
“Extra meals are different from formal meals. It is good for my overweight child to eat more vegetables,” said one mother surnamed Li.
Still, some parents have expressed their concerns, worrying that the dietary plan might hurt their child’s growth during this critical stage of development. Others were concerned about the psychological implications of categorizing kids into “overweight” and “underweight.” Kindergartens are already rather unrestrained in their fat shaming. Earlier this month, a father was motivated to shed 48 kg in one year after his 4-year-old daughter said she was embarrassed to be picked up by him at kindergarten.
“It is impossible that our children are in malnutrition in the city life. We only worry about excess nutrition. Obesity brings too many problems,” another parent, surnamed Chen, countered.
This follows a study in May which found that the childhood obesity rate was exploding in China, particularly in rural China — a fact that they blamed on junk food from the West.
A study published around the same time in the medical journal, The Lancet, found that China is home to the most obese people in the world, finally surpassing the US with 89.6 million in total — more specifically 16.3% of obese men worldwide are Chinese and 12.4% of women. Continuing a dangerous and growing trend that is becoming a health crisis, both in the cities and in the countryside.
Well, anyway, we know one little lady who certainly isn’t going to be attending this kindergarten:
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