Thursday, 5 January 2012

Dr Dukan's proposals to tackle obesity

This week France has been scandalised by Dr Dukan’s proposals defined in his new book ‘"Lettre ouverte au futur président de la République".  In his book he suggests (as part of a public health policy to tackle obesity) that students in their final 2 years of school receive additional points for their Baccalaureat  if they maintain their weight within a reasonable range.  Mon Dieu! 

I suspect/hope that these remarks might have been taken out of context (and plan to read the book myself) though, I must admit I am not a fan of the Dukan regime.  The regime works (initially) but consuming vast amounts of animal protein is (I feel) unethical, environmentally unfriendly, unhealthy (China study anyone?) and expensive.  As for the oat pancakes (galettes d’avoine) he recommends on his regime and which you can buy for a small fortune in shops, I would rather stick my head in a box and eat the cardboard....

To penalize students for being overweight smacks of discrimination (to penalize anyone for being overweight also smacks of discrimination!). The “BAC’ is oh so important at determining future universities and ‘grandes ecoles’, so gaining/not gaining additional points could actually have an impact on students future careers.  This is also an incredibly stressful time for students who absolutely do not need the additional pressure of a bi annual weigh-in, which could end up by demotivating and upsetting them.  There’s also a question mark in my mind around the use of BMI, as this is not always the best measure of assessing health.

A successful public health policy aimed at tackling obesity, should focus on education, support, inspiration and motivation.  Punishment is never particularly successful in any form.  One of the recent positive moves in primary schools has included increasing the nutrient content of lunches by reducing the salt, sugar and fat content and this is the type of direction that public health policies should follow.

Enjoy your weekend!

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