Chinese school warns pupils not to put on too much weight during Lunar New Year holiday

  • Despite the festival being an excuse to eat and not take exercise, one class in Hangzhou has been threatened with punishment runs if they overindulge
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 January, 2019, 6:49pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 January, 2019, 11:44am

Pupils at a middle school in eastern China have been warned they will be punished with forced exercise sessions if they put on too much weight during the Lunar New Year holiday, according to local media reports.

Thirteen and 14-year-olds at Hangzhou No 3 Middle School in Zhejiang province weighed themselves on Monday before the country’s biggest holiday, the Qianjiang Evening News reported on Tuesday.

If they put on more than 2kg (4lb) over the Spring Festival they will be made to go for a run every day of the next term.

“Recently as I was walking around a shopping mall with friends, I saw a weighing scale and suddenly had an idea: I wanted the students weighing themselves before the holidays and give them an awareness of the risks of putting on more weight later on,” the class’s teacher Chen Wei told the newspaper.

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One of his pupils Chen Kexiang pointed out that most people used the holiday period to eat a lot and took little exercise so it was going to be hard to avoid putting on weight.

But another, named Zhang Lijia, said that most students’ weights were in the standard healthy range, adding: “It’s just getting weighed, what is there to be scared of?”

Another pupil Wang Hang said: “The food they serve in the school canteen is really tasty, I eat five people’s portions almost every day.

“I must control my portions, I will try to limit my meals to two or three bowls of food.”

Reactions to the scheme were mixed on Chinese social media.

“I think it’s a great thing to make students aware of their physical health,” one user said.

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Another comment read: “If they’re middle school sophomores, their bodies are growing. Isn’t it quite normal to have weight fluctuations?”

China faces a school obesity epidemic and already has the highest number of obese children in the world.

One 2017 study has warned that its number of obese children could hit 50 million by 2030.

Experts have attributed this to a large amount of processed foods in young people’s diets, as well as high academic pressures which leave students with less time for physical activity.

However, Chinese schools require students to do mass callisthenics exercises led by a teacher every morning as part of the school day.

High school students must also undertake one or two weeks of military training at the start of every school year.