Apparently, in Ohio, it was ok for a school to send a letter to the home of every student who’s BMI fell outside the “normal” range during a standard weight check in gym class. Now, for those of you who don’t know, BMI or body mass index, is a way to measure body mass based on your height and weight. The key term here is mass. If you are Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, (Hey Dwayne!) you have to imagine his BMI is like, 900 because the dude is ALL muscle. This number only tells us what your mass is, not how much fat you have on your body. Calculating BMI does take sex and age into account but not ethnicity or background history.
Back to the Ohio school situation. You can find a link to the article here: fat letters. The kids that received the letters started calling them “Fat letters” and 21 states require them to be sent when they test the students’ BMI. A friend of a girl who received the letter was so upset she decided to make a documentary and you can find it on Netflix. I don’t have all the facts so I am not going to jump on the fat shaming band wagon yet, but I tend to agree and also disagree with the schools decision to send these letters.
- Kids should not be shamed if they are too fat or too skinny
- BMI is only a SMALL part in determining if you are healthy or not
- Clearly there is a better way to tell a student they need to be more health conscious
- What did the letter actually say?
- Maybe the parents are overweight and they aren’t aware their kids are overweight or don’t know what to do about it?
- Are these kids in lower-income families?
- Do they have direct access to fresh fruits and vegetables and do they know how to prepare them?
- What else is going on in these kids’ lives?
- What will the school do to help these children?
The school issued an apology, other states have opted out, and Ohio no longer requires BMI testing of its students. Is this good or bad? Is it the schools responsibility to tell a student they have an “outside normal” BMI? Is it the school responsibility to help the child regain a “normal” BMI? Is that BMI normal for that child?
For those of you that follow me, you may have remembered me mentioning a non-profit organization. I am working on getting my 501C3 with the state of MN and getting my website up and running. I will be known as Get Fed Up. Our slogan is “Get fed up with childhood obesity”. I think that more teaching needs to be brought into these areas. Simply saying “Your BMI is outside the normal range” and then doing nothing about it, isn’t helping anyone. I am always open to suggestion and ideas. TACO (T-rex Against Childhood Obesity) has been replaced but will always be in my heart.