THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
QUEBEC – The school is a “springboard for action” in the fight against obesity and sedentary lifestyle created by screens, believes an expert from CHU Sainte-Justine.
Currently, elementary and secondary schools in Quebec offer little advice for managing screen time and few periods of physical education, according to Mélanie Henderson.
“We have here an extraordinary springboard to act because all young people are in school,” insists in an interview the pediatric endocrinologist, saying she is worried about what she sees in the clinic.
Deprived of their usual physical activities, their eyes glued to their screens, many young people now have to deal with problems of overweight, obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
“What do I see? I see young people who have catastrophic weight gains. (…) It’s difficult when you gain 15 kilos in three, four months (…) to lose it. ”
Melanie Henderson cites an American study which suggests that 57% of today’s children will be obese by 35, which is three times the current obesity average of 35-year-old adults.
Change, she says, can come through school.
“We have an interesting opportunity at school to develop extracurricular programs, activity programs during recess, to increase the time for physical education classes.
“Not only is this a role to play, but we have a golden opportunity to really reach the entire pediatric and adolescent population and to have interventions that have convincing impacts.”
Has the tablet proven itself?
In addition, Dr. Henderson wonders about the tablet in schools, more and more popular, pandemic requires.
In any case, she believes that the Ministry of Education cannot do without an assessment of the impacts of this technology on young people.
“Me, I’m not convinced that it’s the best thing for young people, because it creates a lot of distractions, but if we think it’s a good way, very perfect, let’s evaluate. (…) Let’s go see if it gives better results. “
The massive arrival of tablets in schools has never been accompanied by a necessary warning against the deleterious effects, deplored earlier this week experts attentive to the matter.
Their intervention in the media comes nine months after a government forum on youth screens and health was held, a forum that was interrupted by the pandemic and for which there has been no follow-up yet.
The first part of the forum concluded that screens affect eyesight, sleep, weight and language skills, in addition to increasing the risk of developing addiction, anxiety and low self-esteem.
“Health data on screen time is not recognized in education,” Tania Tremblay, psychology teacher at Collège Montmorency and associate researcher at UQAM, told The Canadian Press.
Caroline Fitzpatrick, from the psychology department at Université Sainte-Anne in Nova Scotia, called for the creation of a committee, where health and education experts could “try to create a dialogue”.
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