A new scheme in Texas public schools has cameras tracking students to monitor what and when they eat.
The US federal government via the US Department of Agriculture granted schools in Texas $2 million in funds to place high-end cameras into San Antonio schools that can read barcodes on students’ cafeteria trays.
“We're going to snap a picture of the food tray at the cashier and we will know what has been served," Dr Roberto Trevino of the Social and Health Research Centre in San Antonio told Reuters. “When the child goes back to the disposal window, we're going to measure the leftover."
The goal of the program is to fight increases in childhood obesity by providing information on student diets to parents and nutritional experts who design school lunch programs. The program will track calorie counts as well as other nutritional details.
The cameras will allow officials to track who eats what, how good it is for them and what it means for their overall diet. Reports will be printed out that reveal serving sizes, calories, fiber counts, and sugar and protein counts.
"We will be able to determine whether current programs that are aimed at preventing obesity work, and whether they are really changing students' behavior," Trevino explained.
He pointed out that participating children will not be photographed and only students whose parents agree to the program will be monitored.
Nevertheless, privacy advocates are likely to be outraged by the increase in monitoring. There has been a rise of cameras and other tools used to track everyday movement and activities of average people through the United States – ranging from traffic cameras to integrated networks monitoring entire cities.