Letters Informing Parents Their Kid Are Obese

Share Button

girldonutFrom Your Health Journal…..”One web site I always enjoy and promote is called BlissTree, as they have so many well written and informative articles. I highly recommend your visiting their site for some quality articles. Recently, I found an article called “Fat Letters” Informing Parents Their Kid Is Obese Are Not Solving Childhood Obesity written by Carrie Murphy. Many parents in a Massachusetts town were surprised when they received letters in the mail informing them their children were “obese.” These letters were sent from their children’s school in an effort to fight obesity. The question then comes up whether schools have to right to monitor a child’s health. BMI (Body Mass Index) Screening was used, where a child’s height and weight measurements are taken to see if the child’s weight fall within a healthy range. Sometimes, a BMI is controversial, as many people feel it is not giving an accurate result, sighting it does not take into account lean body mass or water weight. But, due to its convenience, it still remains a popular way of measuring children’s weight. Obesity related illnesses are a problem, even children are not immune to them. Heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and weak joints are now problems facing children. Please visit the Bliss Tree web site (link provided below) to read the complete article.”

From the article…..

Quite a few parents in North Andover, Massachusetts were surprised when they received letters in the mail informing them their children were “obese.” These letters, which came from the school system, were designed as “part of a broader strategy to combat obesity,” according to the Huffington Post. But do schools really have a right to monitor the weight of their pupils?

Children are given routine BMI screenings in school and letters are sent to parents revealing if a student is underweight, overweight, or at a healthy weight. Apparently, parents can opt their children out of the screenings, or choose to come to the school to watch the screenings themselves. The Massachusetts Department Of Public Health said, in an email to the Huffington Post:

BMI screenings are part of a multi-faceted approach to address the significant public health problem of obesity. Children with a high BMI are more likely to become overweight or obese adults and be at higher risk for diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. Helping children maintain a healthy weight may prevent serious illness later in life. The latest BMI report showed that 32.3% of students in Massachusetts were either overweight or obese.

BMI screenings are intended to raise parents’ awareness about this issue. Parents and guardians are given the opportunity to waive their child’s BMI screening at school by submitting a written request. The results of the screening are directly and confidentially communicated to the parents or guardians of each student.

One fourth grader who wrestles and plays football, was determined to have a BMI that marked him as obese. His parents are angry about the letter and the screening, which they say doesn’t take into consideration muscle mass.

But the issue here is obviously more that just what constitutes a BMI (the measurement of which is almost certainly flawed, by the way). It’s one of schools and school systems becoming, in a way, public health policemen. I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, I think this kind of approach is borderline fat-shaming (yes, despite the fact that letters were sent out to normal and underweight kids, too) and rife with problems. Where are the tests conducted: in a private room or in sight of other children? Do they even know or understand what they’re being tested for? At what age does the testing begin? This article says it happens at “certain ages,” but doesn’t go into specifics.

To read the complete article…..Click here