Schools are trying to help students lead healthier lives through more nutritious school lunches or increasing physical activity. Is taking students body mass index, in order to send home letters to parents stating their children are overweight or underweight, going to far?
In North Andover, Massachusetts, schools are trying to fight childhood obesity with 32% of students getting overweight or obese letters sent home. The schools say they are trying to help parents.
One problem with this is that BMI is an inaccurate measure of fat versus lean muscle. An athletic and active 4th grader, Cameron Watson, received a ‘fat letter’ from his Massachusetts school.
Cam is a wrestler, mixed martial arts fighter, football player, baseball player, basketball player and bike rider. He and his parents do not feel he is overweight, much less obese.
Another student, Shelby Sumner, an active gymnast and athlete, was also sent home with a borderline overweight ‘fat letter’. At 4’9” and 90 pounds, Shelby is not overweight, although her BMI was 19.43, bringing her to 84.38%, which 85% is considered overweight.
Are schools bullying students about their weight? What message is the school sending students as they point out obesity in letters home based on measurements not the student’s lifestyle?
Should schools be discouraged from interfering with child rearing? Or is encouraging healthy lifestyles important for schools to support as well?
Do you as a parent need a letter sent home to know your child’s weight issues?
What would help parents raise awareness for the eating better and losing weight in children? Is some statistic, that does not explain what BMI is, or how to increase or decrease it as suggested, helpful or harmful?
Children are growing, changing, and developing all at different rates. Each student is different. Are these generalizations detrimental to a students self-esteem, self-respect, or self-image?
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