School Weigh-Ins: Health Initiative or Bullying?

by omni

Talk about controversial. A new initiative is growing at numerous schools across the country where school officials measure a student’s weight each year and send a report to their parents about the child’s BMI. (A BMI is a person’s body mass index and is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. The calculations result in a number. Generally, a BMI of 18.5-24.9 is considered “normal” and therefore healthy. A BMI under 18.5 is considered “underweight,” a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered “overweight,” and a BMI of 30 and over is considered “obese.” Many doctors, particularly pediatricians, believe that the BMI is the best way of determining the health of a child. On the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute government website, one can calculate their own BMI by entering their weight and height). Parents and others are in an uproar of these “weigh-ins,” claiming it causes stress and body issues. One mother says it all, telling ABC News, “the last thing they need is the school to now step in … ‘You’re too skinny,’ ‘you’re too fat.'” Another mother worries that, since children’s bodies are changing as they grow, they may see their “number” as “bad” if they aren’t the right number that adults and doctors are telling them are what they should be. Receiving a “bad” report could feel like bullying. Currently happening at schools in 19 states, students are required to participate in an annual weigh-in. The justification for this is that a BMI reading helps combat childhood obesity. If a child is at a low or high rate, the parent is notified and can change the child’s eating regimen. The weigh-ins at schools are growing as a result of the increase of childhood obesity in the country. However, those against it claim it can cause students to have eating disorders. According to a Duke study, 60% of children between 6 and 12 years old worry about their weight. These weigh-ins could increase this rate and worsen it. Many students are calling the reports “fat letters,” since they view them as a judging report that tells them and their parents that their BMI classifies them as overweight. While the letters do not specifically use the terms “fat” or “skinny,” the numbers say it all. Students as young as six years old have received a “fat letter.” Nearly all the students are against the weigh-ins. Many are afraid of receiving their results and fear bullying will start if students find out each others’ “number” (referring to the BMI number). We’ve told you the facts and both sides of the argument – now we want to hear what you think. Is measuring a student’s BMI a positive initiative that will help monitor students’ weight and health, notifying parents if their child is over or underweight? Or, does such a program only emphasize weight and what one should or shouldn’t be? News Source: ABC News

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