GMA: The School “Fat Report”! Do They Help or Hurt Your Child?

School Kids9-3-2013 ABC’s Good Morning America reported on a new practice by school systems to help combat America’s childhood obesity problem… BMI testing. It seems that in a growing number of schools, students are subjected to annual weigh-ins and the results in the form of your child’s BMI (Body Mass Index) number are being sent to the parents. Students call them “Fat Letters”.  But are these letters really helping or hurting kids? ABC’s Bianna Golodryga sets out to explore the pros and cons of this controversial practice.

Golodryga reports that 19 states from Arkansas to Illinois are taking part in these BMI screenings. These reports are indicating if their child has a healthy BMI or an at risk BMI.

It was reported that pediatricians say that BMI readings are helpful in combating childhood obesity. Dr. Lanre Omojokun Falusi, American Academy of Pediatrics, says that BMI readings are the best measurement that is available to determine whether a child’s weight is healthy or unhealthy.

But eating disorder experts worry that the BMI reports may do more harm than good. Claire Mysko, National Eating Disorders Association, says she would like to see BMI testing in schools banned. She feels for those children that are already insecure about their weight, BMI testing might trigger an eating disorder.

Bianna Golodryga reports that sources say some 40% of girls between the ages of 9 to 12 have already been on a diet. And as many as 60% of children between the ages of 6 and 12 are actually worried about their weight.

Bianna asked several middle school girls their opinions about their school’s BMI reporting program.  Some said they hated the testing. One felt that the tests did not do much but make you feel more insecure about yourself. And some of their parents also felt the same way. They felt that the students are already insecure about entering adolescence and then giving them this BMI number is just one more thing for them to worry about.

ABC’s Senior Medical Contributor, Dr. Jennifer Ashton says she feels this is a very controversial topic and very complicated. But looking at both sides she feels the effort is very well-intention. She says we all know that 30% or more of our children are overweight or obese. The idea is to target the environment where these children are spending 50% of their time. But the flipside is to question how is this information going to help and will it do harm? As doctors their primary goal in medicine is ‘to do no harm’. And when we are talking about kids, there is peer pressure, stigma and self-esteem issues which are hard enough for an average child. And for an overweight or obese child these issues are compounded.

So Dr. Ashton  suggests the best constructive approach to utilizing this information is:

  1. Understand that the opposite end (underweight) of having an over-weight or obese BMI reading is also unhealthy. We should strive for the average numbers. Also keep in mind the BMI number is not a perfect measurement and factors such as having a high proportion of muscle mass can effect the accuracy.
  2. Education is key. Bring in nutritionists, sports physiologists and doctors who can help these families deal with their child’s BMI information.
  3. Hold schools accountable for providing healthy lunch programs, removing junk foods from snack vending machines and providing students with physical education programs.

Related Sources:

Calculate your BMI –  TheRightTrak.com

Related posts:

  1. Dr Oz: Childhood Obesity. Should The Child Be Removed From The Home? The Dr. Oz Show presented the controversial subject of childhood...
  2. ABC World News: New School Lunch Rules. No Surprise! Our Brats Rebel! 09-26-2012 ABC’s World News with Diane Sawyer reports that the new...
  3. Dr Oz: Childhood Obesity. Should Parents Be Charged With Child Abuse? The Dr Oz Show featured a controversial subject to address...
  4. ABC World News: New Report. Salt May Be Harming Our Kids Health. 09-17-2017 ABC World News with Diane Sawyer reported that a new...
  5. ABC Action News: Walk To School Day Deiah Riley, ABC Action News, WFTS-TV in Tampa,  reminded us...
  6. ABC World News: The Buffet Rule. The Mega-Rich Should Pay The Same Tax Rate As The Rest Of Us! Sep 18, 2011 – ABC World News with Diane Sawyer...
  7. ABC’s Dr. Besser. Arsenic in Apple Juice. He Now Says We Should Be Concerned. Nov 30, 2011 – ABC’s Good Morning America reported this...
  8. US Government. Childhood Obesity. A Threat To Our National Security. Government, Schools, Families, And Kids Themselves Are Called To Action. 09-25-2012 C-Span broadcast a conference from the National Press Club held...