The blogosphere has buzzed lately with the voices of parents who are appalled and sometimes outraged at the idea of the schools sending home notices regarding their children's weight. Here's part of a recent posting from MotherTalkers:
"At least a dozen states have passed legislation requiring schools to start sending reports home if a child's Body Mass Index (itself a controversial health-o-meter) indicates her or she is "overweight" or "at risk." The latest state considering such action is New Jersey. Jeff Stier, the Associate Director of the American Council on Science and Health, wrote in the Huffington Post in June, "(I)f your child is obese, you probably know it already. A report card telling you so will only add to the stigma, without providing real approaches to addressing the problem."
"And the stigma is the real sore spot. Even the "real" approaches some states have tried have inspired some pissed-off parents to sound off. ABC News reported in January that a Wyoming school sent a letter to a twelve-year-old student's parents, and invited their son to join the "Strong Kids' Club." The mother was livid that the school would call out only the heavier kids with an invite."
At the moment, the post has 28 comments on the issue; and from what I gathered, nobody thinks the schools should get involved.
Some things, most people feel, should be left to parents and parents alone. The problem, however, is that a great many parents are in denial about their children's weight. A Consumer Reports poll, reported in USA Today, found that, while 91% of the parents polled indicated being overweight or obese is a problem among children, more than 68% said their own children were at their ideal weight. And this was despite the fact that 36% of the kids had a BMI that put them into the overweight category.
Think it should be left to the pediatricians to inform parents? In one poll, only 36% of parents with heavy children reported that their physician recommended their child lose weight. The other 64% say their doctors didn't mention it at all. So, if they're in denial and their pediatricians aren't going to deal with the issue, from where is the necessary information to come?
Think a parent has to be completely clueless not to notice a child is overweight or obese? Apparently, it's easier than you'd imagine.
Should the schools be involved? It's a heated -- and delicate -- issue. What do you think?
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Rae Pica, Child Movement Specialist