In hopes of conquering a growing childhood obesity problem, schools in 19 states are weighing kids, measuring their body mass index, and sending notes home with students informing parents whether their kids are "healthy" or "overweight." But these "fat report cards" have created a firestorm among parents, who say such letters can harm kids' self-esteem and potentially trigger eating disorders, ABC News reports.
Officials say the measurements are useful in tackling the childhood obesity problem where kids spend 50 percent of their time — in school. BMI readings are "the best means we have to determine whether a child's weight is healthy or unhealthy," says Dr. Lanre Omojokun Falusi, a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics and a pediatrician.
Yet critics of the program say BMI readings are not always accurate, such as when a child has a lot of muscle mass, which increases their weight. Nor are BMI readings helpful, they say, when kids are entering adolescence, and receiving a number about weight can add to a child's stress.
"Their bodies are changing . . . And then they get this number that says, 'Oh, you know, you're not the right number.' It's just a horrible way to start womanhood," says Shannon Park, a mother of a 9-year-old and 13-year-old daughter. Many parents would like to see the weigh-ins, and subsequent report cards, banned from schools. But in the meantime, parents can notify their schools that they want to opt out of the weigh-ins. Does your child's school conduct weigh-ins — and do you find them appropriate?