erica057 (erica057) wrote in ed_ucate,

Oh. My. God.

Some school districts have started giving kids a new grade on their report cards: their BMIs. The Body Mass Index is a scale developed by the National Health Institute to provide a rough idea of your body condition, from unhealthily thin to uhealthily overweight, based on height and weight. The many criticisms of the BMI scale include the fact that it does not really take into account muscle, so a very muscular person will score worse than a chubby person of the same height. The standard scale is only designed to apply to adults, not to children, so although the New York Times does not note it in their recent article, we will assume that the children's BMI scale, which also factors age into account, is being used at these schools. The results are probably marginally more accurate, but children grow and develop at such different rates that it is doubtful as to how useful the readings are regardless of scale.

The schools' goal in instituting this system, which is being used in Delaware, South Carolina and Tennessee with legislation pending in several other states, is to motivate parents to watch their kids' weight and have their kids eat healthier and exercise more. Unfortunately, kids also see these report cards and seeing that one, flawed number can wreak havoc on a small child's self perception. Many have reported want to stop eating when the see their results and others simply tease the skinny kids (reports are used in grades k-8). This is not helped by the fact that many of these schools are not offering healthier food options or an increased number of physical activities.

Finger-pointing has rarely helped anything and, when six year olds decide that they are too fat and begin to refuse to eat, the issue needs to be reexamined and better solutions need to be offered. At the very least, the schools could offer some suggestions to parents as to what types of activities they might encourage their kids to engage in and send the results home separate from the report card with a letter explaining what they mean.

Uhhh...there's GOT to be a better way of dealing with childhood obesity than having weigh-ins for kids and associating BMI with a "grade" received in school. JMHO.

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