International

Schools in Singapore Take on Obesity

By Rhea R. Borja — January 19, 2005 1 min read

As part of a national initiative that began in 1992 to fight fat, schools in Singapore are seeing signs of success in their campaign to slim down overweight students through mandatory exercise, weight monitoring, and healthier food in cafeterias.

Mona Slow plays sports during her lunch break. Because she is overweight, the 10-year-old must take part in her Singapore primary school's "health club."

Many primary and secondary school students also take part in competitions such as the “HealthZone Challenge,” to show their knowledge of healthy habits, and Singapore’s “Trim and Fit” program advocates smaller portion sizes and daily exercise for children.

One in 10 Singapore students is overweight or obese, according to the city-state’s most recent health survey.

Results of the national health initiatives are promising: The percentage of overweight students dropped from 14 percent in 1992 to 9.8 percent in 2002, according to the Ministry of Education. The percentage of students passing an annual physical-fitness test also improved to 82 percent in 2002, up from 57.8 percent a decade earlier.

Coverage of cultural understanding and international issues in education is supported in part by the Atlantic Philanthropies.
A version of this article appeared in the January 19, 2005 edition of Education Week

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