BMI testing in schools

I was referred to a link the other day which went to a blog on 'Babycenter', the title of the blog was "they said my daughter is fat" - which intrigued me. It went on to tell a story that some schools are  required by the State to test kids BMI (Body Mass Index) and report the results to partents, they range from 'normal' to 'obese'. The woman writing the article had received a letter that her daughter was on the edge of 'obese', but the mother had a reaction of shame and embarrassment, she was appalled that the school would tell her such a thing (read the full article here). I was shocked by another thing.... what the heck kind of bubble is she living in!? I don't know about you but I think that this kind of testing in schools is a very good idea. And while BMI might not be the perfect way to find out if kids have eating problems or are not eating proper foods, no test is going to be perfect and it's certainly a good start! Obviously the school has to handle it in the right way and discuss all of the issues with the students and families discretely, notify them that the test is going on and explain what the results mean. If you think your school is not doing this correctly, then get involved and help the school to make sure the information is clear, complete and informative for the parents. It's a little ridiculous to complain that they should not even test for this, somehow this person is blind to the world we live in today with very intense eating problems.

I spend a lot of time in our school and while I think that most kids are in good shape and active some are to the point where they can't even run anymore and it's sad! I think that some parents need a wake-up call and take notice and seek some help in working with these kids diets so that they can take a more healthy path. I think that when they are your own kids you don't really notice, it happens slowly and you wake up one day and it is very difficult for your child to turn back. If you catch kids early enough their turn around is pretty simple and easy and just takes some discipline and exercise (and it's a wonderful opportunity to do something WITH your kids not matter what your weight!).

here are some statistics:
  • More than 30 percent of American children are obese or overweight. This is triple the number than in 1980.
  • Overweight kids are likely to become overweight adults.
  • Poor nutrition is everywhere; only 2 percent of school-age children consistently eat well.
  • Kids are less active overall due to today’s fast-paced but sedentary lifestyles. Only 8 percent of elementary school students and 6 percent of middle school and high school students have daily PE at school.
  • 35% of school-age children watch an average of 5 or more hours of TV on a school day.
  • Overweight kids miss school 4 times as much as normal weight kids. If kids aren’t in school, they can’t learn.
  • Low-income and minority children are most seriously at risk.
  • All of these children face serious, yet preventable, obesity-related health risks such as diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer.
  • As a nation, we spend $119 billion annually on obesity-related health care costs. The U.S. economy simply cannot bear continued increases in these costs.

What do you think? (be nice!) - I would love to hear from International parents on this subject... what do your schools do to make sure that kids are eating right?

click here to read full article at Babycenter


elizabeth said...

i think the bmi testing is schools is an empty practice. parents are not given help to rememedy situations of childhood obesity and schools continue to serve very unhealthy lunches to children. the bmi testing is also controversial in children as their genetics are not taken into account and they are still growing. why test your child at school, and send home a note that your child is obese when there is no plan or program in place to help. or your child could be going through a growth stage where bmi testing isn't appropriate. of course childhood obesity and unhealthy eating habits are very big problems, but labeling and testing with no motive is another huge problem in schools.

mamina said...

Being European I still struggle to see how poorly nutrition is handled at public schools here in the US. Lunch Menu is uninspiring, dull and very safe play( chicken patty, pizza, tacos, etc.), there is no snack allowed before lunch ( in Europe all children at school have a light snack @ 10 am, mostly prepared at home, kind of a sack snack)...I could go on and on. But I think first and foremost it is the home front where the change has to start. Parents need to invest time and energy in cooking for their children and care about what food choices their kids have at school. Simple as that!

Anonymous said...

I think you are being a little harsh on the author. She has been told that her daughter is virtually obese and yet she is fit, active and "not an ounce overweight". It is well known that BMI is an inaccurate measure of obesity in those with high muscle mass, and should very cautiously be used in children who are growing. We used to do fitness assessments annually at school, which gave a broad profile (not including BMI), rather than a single figure. Personally I think this is always going to be more useful and less dangerous in young women at risk of body imaage distortion.

Anonymous said...

Physical Education needs to be priority #1. One day a week in some schools is what kids are getting of physical activity. Kids need to be outdoors moving and exploring. Also kids should be taking breaks in the classroom-stretching, moving. We need to be teaching are kids healthy habits...eating, exercise. School and home.