BMI screenings in school?

September 28, 2009

Back in April, the Public Health Counsel in Massachusetts unanimously voted to begin BMI screenings for students to determine if students are overweight. The screenings were set to begin this fall.

During the next two years, screenings will be phased in, with over 286,000 students expected to undergo evaluation by the end of the 2010-2011 school year.

My feelings on this? Well, I’m torn. On one hand, childhood obesity is a growing epidemic. I applaud Massachusetts for taking a proactive approach and taking the first step to help curb this issue. They are following in the footsteps of New York and Arkansas, who have been screening students for years.

On the other hand, I’m concerned about the privacy and confidentiality of the screenings, and the possible effects it could have on a student’s self-esteem. Where will the testings take place? In the classroom? In the school nurse’s office? We all know how cruel children can be, especially when it comes to weight and other physical appearances. Being overweight is hard enough for most children – having the results of an often times inaccurate test be made known to a school full of kids (accidentally or on purpose) can be a devastating blow to a child’s confidence.

Perhaps a better approach would be to require a BMI screening from a pediatrician before the start of the school year. The test can be done in the privacy of a doctor’s office, and the child can receive immediate directions and health advice in the event he is found to be overweight.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the state taking responsibility for the health and wellness of children – my main issue is the psychological effects this could have on children in the event their results are made known to fellow classmates.

How do you feel about this? Do you think Massachusetts has the right to impose this ruling? Would you want your child to have a BMI test at school?

On a side note, I didn’t even touch upon the inaccuracy of BMI screenings. I’ll save that for another post.

PS- Many thanks to Mike for sending this article along! 🙂


3 Responses to “BMI screenings in school?”

  1. Mike Lamb Says:

    Great Article ;), Im glad I could help.

  2. robert Fantaroni Says:

    I think it is great the BMI’s have been started as this gives us information about the health of our children. BMI information is a helpful tool and when data is produced about the numbers of children who are “unhealthy” it should produce some action by the public to take notice of unhealthy habits which lead to this overweight crisis. Yes BMI scores need to be understood as only one tool in looking at health. BMI does not tell us about their muscle structure, their physical condition nor their hereditary makeup which is why is only one tool which gives us an indication that more focus needs to be centered on getting healthy.
    So, a positive step and one that many people fear because they don’t fully understand that it is one tool in the battle against obesity. When done in the schools, no public information is released except to the parent. The schools data is compiled but only as data and no single child is identified nor action taken to help one child but rather as an approach to the schools trend from the total percentage of BMI scores.
    I am glad to see this and hope that it will continue instead of being seen as a negative.

  3. […] I first started this blog, most of my posts were geared toward health and fitness topics, either something I saw in the news or just a mere observation on my […]

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