Wayo Exchange in Japan (Week 2): Wednesday

Today we went to Sosa city (Yokaichiba) to visit the health screening of students in grades 3 and 4 students from two different primary schools. The health check team was formed by one doctor, several nurses and some dietitians. The nutrition students, supervised by the faculty/researchers from Wayo, completed the food frequency questionnaire, 24- hour recall, and daily physical activity. They also measured the height, weight and waist circumference. The children also had their pulse rate and blood pressure check. The last part of the check was the drawing of the blood sample. After the annual health check, a nutrition education program is conducted in the community. The purpose of this health screening is to prevent life-style related diseases in the early stage of life.

When we examined the children’s height and weight records, we found that there are 8 in 42 children whose weight above 20% of the standard weight according to their age and none had weights less than 20% of the standard weight. Based on Japanese health standards, a weight above 20% of the standard is considered as obesity. So in the group of students observed, about 20% of them are considered obese. Because childhood is a critical life stage for cell fission and proliferation, there is a high link between overweight in childhood and obesity in adult, which eventually results in the risk of diabetes, heart diseases, etc.

This screening system provides fairly accurate measures of children’s health and helps dietitians carry out specific diet/nutrition education for children. It was amazing to observe their data collection procedures!