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Body-Mass Index (BMI), Bags and Backs: A nationwide study

Body-Mass Index (BMI), Bags and Backs is a nation-wide study that will be held in Maltese schools between October and December 2015.

This study will measure the weight and height of all Maltese school children to determine the rate of childhood overweight and obesity. Moreover, as part of the study, the weight of the child’s school bag will also be checked. A number of children will then be asked some questions about back pain.

This study is a joint project between researchers from the Research and Policy Development Department within the Ministry for Education and Employment, the Ministry for Energy and Health, the Department of Paediatrics, and the Malta Association of Physiotherapists. The research has been endorsed by the Superintendent of Public Health and is deemed to be of national importance to public health.

What will the study involve?

Each school will be provided with a standard weighing scale for a short period of time. During this time, the school’s PE teachers will dedicate a class lesson to measure the weight and height of every child in a particular class. It is important to stress that the data collected will be stored anonymously to ensure full confidentiality for each child. Data from each school will then be sent to a central database where each entry will still remain anonymous.

What are the benefits of the study?

Childhood obesity is a major worldwide problem and Maltese children have high obesity rates when compared children in other countries. Also, childhood obesity can have both immediate and future effects on health and well-being. This study will be the first worldwide to measure all schoolchildren in a specific country. The results will help the health department assess better the true nutritional status of Maltese children to help focus public health initiatives. The results will also help improve schools’ abilities to teach students about healthy eating and promote healthy behaviours and physical activity.

What about my son’s/daughter’s participation in the study?

Should you prefer that your son/daughter does not participate in this study you are kindly asked to contact the Head of School and inform her about this.