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Georgia State wants schools to monitor a child's BMI score

Posted on Jun 22, 2009 by Maggie LaBarbera

Georgia State has just introduced a bill that would have schools tracking a child's body mass index (BMI). So in addition to reading, writing, math and other subjects we may be asking them to track a child's BMI. Learn more about your child's BMI.

The bill would require schools to record this score twice a year. That means in addition to teaching there would need to be two days a year where they would have to obtain weight and height measurements and then calculate each child's BMI.

Other states like Arkansas, Florida, South Carolina and West Virginia have already started requiring schools to measure this.

I have mixed emotions about this. The best place for BMI monitoring is in the pediatrician's office. Each visit whether it be for routine exam, immunizations or sick visits should always include a quick BMI check. This is really a health issue and needs to be treated as such with proper nutrition counseling, resources and a family discussion of goals to improve the family's eating and activity habits.

But then I ask myself what about the kids without insurance, who don't go to the doctor routinely or worse, pediatricians that don't monitor BMI scores?

I am not here with an easy answer but rather questions to think about:

Do the schools have the resources to add this extra activity? Would it be a very stressful, maybe even embarrassing day for the child who is overweight? Are parents' given enough information to help understand what a BMI score is? What about healthy eating? Are the kids that don't eat healthy but happen to be a "normal" BMI score going to get completely overlook? Are these scores accessible to their pediatricians? What are we doing with the data?

I know we have a real problem on our hands, but I am not sure that mandating schools is the answer? How about mandating the health community? For me, I think focusing on providing a good education to kids with a good nutrition education program, healthy meals, PTA awareness and outreach programs and mandated PE classes would be a better use of resources.

What do you think?

Resources: Find out what your child's Body Mass Index score is.

Learn more about a child's Body Mass Index score is.



1 Comment

Thursday, Jul 02, 2009 @ 05:11 PM

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I completely agree with you, rather than taking repeat measurements, why not put that funding into more appropriate areas like PE, nutrition education and outreach programs. There are a couple of troubling things here; first, what are they going to do with these measurements? Send them home with a warning to parents? While we all want healthy, happy children, can we really mandate what a parent feeds their child (especially in these tough economic times when some families are struggling to put food on the table?). Secondly, what good do these do, except to identify "at risk" and "overweight" children? Odds are, the parent can see this, they do not need a number. If that is the case, then outreach and awareness may be better ways of approaching this issue, by offering information about how subtle diet changes can make a huge difference. And, back to the economic thing, many of these kids may not be enrolled in any sports programs right now. Increasing PE time may be their only opportunity for organized sports. And that's not a bad thing. Good luck! I hope that they see that this is really not the right approach, however well-meaning.

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