My daughter is "at risk of being overweight" ...why do schools do this to kids?

@foxyfire33 (10009)
United States
June 14, 2007 9:06pm CST
They sent the BMI results home in a letter WITH the children instead of sending them through the mail. Sure it saves money on postage but at the cost of some of the children's self esteem. My oldest daughter is extremely active and eats healthy but according to her BMI she's at risk of being overweight and only one percentage point away from being in the "overweight" category. She IS short for her age but she's also 11 so I know she's on the verge of a growth spurt to get up to her full height. I'm not at all concerned about her physical health but I do worry about her emotional well being. She was completely devastated to read that letter. I know it's important to check BMI's to make sure children are healthy BUT they don't tell the whole story. So here's my question...or several questions rather... How do you feel about BMI? Do you think they are accurate for children? Should the results be kept confidential between the school and parents? Should the school even get involved at all? Any other thoughts or experiences you want to share?
6 people like this
22 responses
@xenpen (90)
• United States
15 Jun 07
Kids' health issues should be taken care of by the parents, not the school. It's none of their business. If they're to push kids into being more active, it should be to help keep them out of trouble, not to force the kids to be healthy by their standards. It's the parents' job to make sure that their children understand what it means to be healthy and active. And what about a child being overweight? If the child eats right and exercise, they're doing great. They're still growing too. Muscle is heavier than fat anyway, and if they have a bit more fat than their friends or classmates, who's to judge and call them fat and lazy? Ignorant adults, that's who. Some people don't realize how emotionally abusive they are to children (or even adults) who are chubbier than them. Their discrimination of overweight children certainly doesn't help the problem at all.
2 people like this
@sigma77 (5385)
• United States
16 Jun 07
Great answer. I agree 100% even though I don't have any school age children. The main responsibilty is in the home and to be born by the parents.
• Canada
15 Jun 07
You think it is important to check BMI to make sure your child is healthy. Now that is something I do not understand. I hate and recent the fact that schools have started to do this. Schools should mind there own business for one. They can teach health fine but to do this to kids and send it home with them to read is just absolutely irresponsible. How many children will start starving them selves because of this or throwing up every time they eat. For the most part they are not emotionally able to handle this type of critisim. Another point to make is this; some kids not all tend to hold on to a certain amount of baby weight some call it but by the time they turn 10 - 12 it just falls off. This is not for all children but it does happen. Good grief! Can everyone just get over themselves this is not the most important thing in life. Yes, Yes teach health to our children. Teach healthy food and bad food. But do not tell them they are fat or obsese! Give them a chance to digest what they are learning with out it being a judgmental thing that causes severe self esteem issues. Maybe I am not explaining myself well but I know there is something terribling wrong with this.
1 person likes this
@foxyfire33 (10009)
• United States
16 Jun 07
No, I don't think it's important to check BMI to make sure a child is healthy. I think it is important to make sure a child IS healthy but I don't think BMI is the right way to do it. Everything else you said I completely agree with!
@FSCAries (881)
• United States
15 Jun 07
I think something like that is a pretty personal matter. If the school MUST get involved in it, I definitely don't think they should send it home through the children. I am big on fitness, I used to be the manager of a large gym and I have a lot of experience with BMI and health factors, but not with children at that age. I'm not positive, but unless they use some different scale then what I'm accustomed to, I dont' see how that could be accurate for a child of that age. Young bodies change so quickly and if she's eating healthy and getting in some rigorous activity everyday, I wouldn't fret it.
1 person likes this
@foxyfire33 (10009)
• United States
15 Jun 07
I don't know if they use a different scale or not but they check BMI's for ALL elementary students, even the little kindergartners! Five and six years olds should definitely not have to be worried about their weight! My kid's at least have always put on weight in one "spurt" then height in another so I don't see how it could be accurate either. Thanks for the reassurance, I'm really not worried about her but it's still nice to hear it!
1 person likes this
@sigma77 (5385)
• United States
16 Jun 07
I do not think BMI is totally accurate. Schools should not even be doing these tests. Like you said, the results devastated your daughter and it is not worth the emotional pain. I guess since schools don't know how to teach anymore, they might as well use tax dollars for these stupid studies. What is this about? All of the sudden if you don't meet certain specifications the schools can then dictate family health practices? They would do better to teach students healthy living instead of wasting time with this kind of program. Schools do enough to isolate certain students and create low self-seteem in children.
1 person likes this
@GardenGerty (109036)
• United States
15 Jun 07
You know, I think someone else posted a similar problem at mid terms. I do not agree at all. Especially at her age. BMI is flawed as it cannot take into consideration bone weight, etc. So here is my opinion: 1. Unless the school is getting a grant for demonstrating that they are making progress in children's health, the teachers need to stay out of what your children weigh and measure. That excludes scoliosis screens, which are life savers. 2. The school needs to provide a minimum of thirty minutes of movement opportunities daily--recess, PE, music, and teach nutrition basics at all levels. 3. The school needs to clean up its meals and its snack machines if it has not already. 4. If for some reason they must make measurements an assessments, they d--- well better comply with the HIPPA regulations and disseminate that material in a confidential manner, that is, in sealed envelopes, sent in the mail to parents and guardians.That is a Federal regulation. An older fitness guru--Covert Bailey, in his books "Fit or Fat" explains how people can look thin and be terribly unhealthy, and how measurements can more accurately be made. Your little girl is probably going to grow up to be a stunner. She sounds like a lovely, sensitive girl.
@evelynlyp (788)
• Japan
15 Jun 07
I come from Brunei we have problem with overweight kids too. Some years ago the schools stop selling carbonated drinks and junk food. We have gym class once a week. They last for an hour. We got extra activities in the afternoon but that's up to the individual if they want to sign up for sports. I think they kids gets medical checks from the clinics and its up to the doctors to tell the parents if they are overweight or not.
1 person likes this
@angelface23 (2498)
• United States
15 Jun 07
I am 24 but I was at the clinic last week and I was looking at their BMI chart. It says I am overweight too which is obsurd cause I am so not overweight. I am 5'4" and I weigh 145lbs. I so do not think of myself as 'fat' or 'overweight' in the least. But I am an adult so I know when I hear things like that they are just silly, but to a child I think it is rather traumatizing to get a letter saying you are fat or at risk for being fat. As far as I'm concerned everyone is at risk for being overweight. I don't think that the info should be confidential, I think maybe they should go about it differently. Maybe mail you the letter or tell you over the phone.
@foxyfire33 (10009)
• United States
17 Jun 07
Considering that I'm 5'3" and my doctor WANTS me to weigh between 115 and 125 at least I don't see how 145 at 5'4" could be overweight. Besides everyone is built differently so it depends a lot on WHERE the weight is distributed. And I like your point about everyone being "at risk".
• United States
15 Jun 07
My son's school does send the letter home in the mail, he's only 6 and wouldn't understand it anyway. However, I don't appreciate them telling me my son is "at risk" for being overweight. He is tall for his age and has always been in the 90th percentile for height and weight. He is extremely active and it is rare to see him sitting doing nothing. I know that being significantly overweight can run in ones family and no one in our family (either side) is significantly overweight or obese. I figure if his pediatrician never says anything about it, I'm not going to worry about it. They always say he is an extremely healthy little boy, so that's good enough for me. I wouldn't pay much attention to the BMI results especially since you know her eating habits and activity level. If it were my daughter, I would just make sure I reassure her that she is a beautiful, healthy girl. . .which I'm sure you've already done :-)
@foxyfire33 (10009)
• United States
16 Jun 07
I have a little boy that's big for his age too and there's no reason to think it's a "problem" for him either. I'm glad your son's school was smart enough to send them home rather than just hand them out to the students. Even if you son wouldn't understand now, he will in a few years. She actually ended up saying something really sweet to me about it. It's probably something that was taught in Sunday school and could be applied to many different things but it made me so happy that she used it for her own situation. She said..."God makes us all different and that's a good thing."
@limosonia1 (1559)
• United States
15 Jun 07
I like the fact that schools are involved because unlike you so parents don't seem to care. I don't like the fact that they don't do BMI's in school accurately. They don't take into account muscle mass which is heavier sending some kids that are athletic into the over weight category. Which isn't fair. They also don't take into account bone structure another misleading weight factor. According to the BMI chart my husband is extremely over weight but according to our doctor and all the accurate test he is in great health and not overweight. He has a lot of muscle which accounts for the extra weight. I do have to say atleast that my kids schools do seal the envelopes and give the parents the option if they would like them mailed instead of sent home. Maybe you can contact your school for them to do that for you explain that it doesn't make your daughter feel good about herself.
@foxyfire33 (10009)
• United States
16 Jun 07
You are right that some parents don't seem to care. Maybe a better solution would be to allow parents to "opt out" of having the test done on their children. Chances are that a parent who doesn't care about their child's health won't take the time to refuse the test anyway...not that it would really matter since they probably wouldn't listen to a piece of paper from the school either. I think that what you mentioned about muscle mass and so forth is exactly what happened with my daughter. She is so active and was even on the basketball team this year. My s/o is "overweight" also based on the simple BMI but he wears size 31 or 32 pants and medium size shirts...on a 5'10" frame how can that possible be overweight? In fact most people tease him about needing to GAIN weight. It would probably be better to mail them all home rather than just at the parents request. Kids will notice that some kids didn't get a letter and will assume the worst. I do think it would be good for them to understand the effect these letters are having on students. I'm sure my daughter wasn't the only one to feel bad.
@carlaabt (3505)
• United States
15 Jun 07
I would be really mad if a school did that to one of my kids. I don't really get why the school is doing a BMI test anyway? And the test they are doing is probably the simple one, that isn't really all that accurate, and doesn't take anything outside of "the norm" into account. What is a "normal" 11 year old girl supposed to look like anyway? Some are short, some are tall, some are already developing, some aren't. How can you put an average on that age? Even if the school really feels like it's something they need to do (it should be the doctor instead, though), they should send it to the parents in a sealed envelope. There is no reason to let the child see it, unless the parents choose to. You're right, little girls compare stuff like that, and it's just not right. As long as your daughter is active and is eating healthy enough, there is no reason for her to worry about her weight. Not everyone is built to be super thin, and some people just wouldn't look right that thin anyway. I'm sure your daughter is beautiful just the way she is naturally built.
@foxyfire33 (10009)
• United States
16 Jun 07
I'd love to know what they think a "normal" 11 year old girl looks like too. There are so many variables, especially at that age, that I just don't see how "normal" or "average" can even exist. I can't imagine her looking any different than she does and although I do worry about her emotional health I don't see anything "wrong" with her weight or potential weight. She's always been a little bigger than "average", that's the way she was made. I wish more people could see that too. Thanks!
@maehan (1445)
• United States
15 Jun 07
I understand how you feel. My youngest son is going to be 5 years old. The doctor told us is at the risk of being overweight and want us to control his diet. My son is very upset when he heard that and he kept asking us is he really that FAT. Then, he himself reduce his food intake and take more vegetables instead of meat. He started to walk with me to bring his eldest brother to school and back from school which he walk 6.8 miles a day. I think it should be between parent and school, if the child get to know, it will affect their self-esteem and confident.
@foxyfire33 (10009)
• United States
15 Jun 07
That's so sad that your almost 5 year old had to hear that and be upset. Obviously he gets plenty of exercise so it's probably just a stage he's going through (like ALL kids have at one point or another). Children's self esteem and confidence is so fragile, I don't know why some adults have to be so thoughtless.
@wiccania (3360)
• United States
15 Jun 07
i think something like that should have been mailed directly to the parents. what if she'd dropped that letter on the way home from school and a sadistic classmate found it? the emotional damage that could come from something like that happening could cause a serious weight issue pretty quickly. personally, if i got something like that from the school (apart from the delivery method), i might make some minor dietary changes or increase physical activity a little or something but i think in children (especially when they're still going thru periodic growth spurts) it should be more of a "just keep an eye on this" kind of thing.
@foxyfire33 (10009)
• United States
15 Jun 07
That's what added to the problem. Of course the other children (especially the girls) were comparing their numbers. My daughter was in an awful position, if she told hers they would all know and tease her but if she didn't say it they would all make assumptions and tease anyway. She is so glad that school is over and she's not going back to that one next year. I'm going to stick with the "just keep an eye on it" attitude. I know she's healthy and active. I'm just completely annoyed that the school thinks that these things are any of their business.
• United States
15 Jun 07
WHY WOULD THEY DO SUCH A THING! I know the schools want to have healthy children but either send them to gym class and feed them better at the school but they don't need to do these tests. And too you can never tell these days. What are there "standards" or whatnot for the kids to be over weight. I'm sure my two month old daughter would be consider over weight since she weighs 10 lbs (being really sarcastic, sorry lol) but I don't think this is something the schools should worry about. She is your daughter... not the schools.
@foxyfire33 (10009)
• United States
15 Jun 07
I disagree with them doing it also. They have some formula based on the child's height and weight and then base it all on standard growth charts. I will be the first to admit that my daughter IS bigger (weight wise) than other girls her age BUT she is also shorter, has a lot of muscle tone, and is an "early bloomer". None of those things get factored in. I know she's healthy and that's really all that matters. All the school did was teach children that physical appearance was more important than overall health...yet they think they're helping.
@Lindalinda (4112)
• Canada
15 Jun 07
I don't think the BMI tells the whole story, in particular not as far as children are concerned. With the growing number of overweight and obese children I think schools have a role to play but they should never send open letters home with the children. If the results cannot be mailed they should be given to the child in a sealed envelope addressed to the parents. The parents then have a choice either to share the information or keep it to themselves. Schools can also do their bit by removing junk food from the premises. I know, if the children really want it they can get it anyway but at least the lower grades will not be able to wander off at lunch time to the nearest convenience store. Furthermore, healthy eating should start in the home. Unfortunately so many people resort to processed and pre-cooked, prepared food and canned food that is full of sugar, salt and additives and enormous amounts of fat.
@foxyfire33 (10009)
• United States
15 Jun 07
I agree that there are children in trouble with their weight. The blame for it is on the parents and the schools. I couldn't believe it when she brought this letter home. I knew they checked BMI's but I thought they would mail the results not just put it in an unsealed envelope with the child's name on it. Of course the kids were going to see what it said and start comparing. I don't know what the school was thinking.
@patgalca (15040)
• Orangeville, Ontario
15 Jun 07
First of all, if they are going to look that closely at children's weight then the risk turning them into anorexics or bulimics. Secondly, as my 14 year old daughter pointed out today, they had pizza day for lunch at school today and then a school barbecue for dinner which included hot dogs, hamburgers, and "tons of desserts". Where is the logic in that? The used to have cupcake day once a month but the new principal outlawed that. I think they are trying too hard to please everybody. If they want to get kids healthy then build on their recess and gym programs. Don't tell them they can't bring skipping ropes and balls to school. They walk around with nothing to do at recess because they are outlawing "toys". I wonder who the heck is thinking this stuff up because they are not taking ALL things into consideration. And what really burns my butt is that my daughter has to miss things like soccer and taekwondo because she has too much homework. Activities I pay for! Activities that keep her active and healthy! Hyopcrites is what they are! A bunch of darned hypocrites!
@foxyfire33 (10009)
• United States
15 Jun 07
I know! It's awful that in their "effort" to keep kids healthy, they are making them so body concious and risking eating disorders. I shouldn't have to explain to an 11 year old that dieting (as in fewer calories) is the last thing she needs to do right now. Our school menu isn't that great either. Lots of starchy foods and the students are given a choice between white and chocolate milk EVERY day (hmmm wonder which kind they're going to pick?) But their "logic" is that if parents don't like what is served then they should provide their own. I agree somewhat but still...at least I know my daughter doesn't even like chocolate milk. They get a 1/2 hour of recess ever day, weather permitting, and only one 1/2 hour gym class every 6 school days. We have those rules about toys too! A jump rope is now classified as a potential "weapon" and students will get suspended for bringing one to school! I also see the same problem with homework. These kids spend almost 7 hours a day at school, most of it sitting, then have to come home and spend another hour or two sitting doing homework at least. Mine gets a full hour after schools before she needs to start homework and then as soon as that is done and she's eaten dinner it's right back out the door to play or go for a good walk but on two nights a week she has activities that keep her inside. I really don't think it's fair to make her sacrifice Girl Scouts and Choir just because the school can't fit in more time for physical activity.
• United States
26 Nov 07
In Kindergarten, my son's teacher informed me of his BMI and the fact that it was on the high side at our parent/teacher conference. It wasn't sent home with the kids. And while telling me about it she let me know that while she didn't agree with it, she was required to inform me of it. This year it was sent home in his backpack and wasn't discussed with me. There is only a note in a box on the paper that says his percentage compared to others in his grade or age group. Either way I disagree with it. But if the schools insist on getting involved then it should be 100% DISCREET!!! How can they start in on their mental well-being like that so early??? I can imagine what other kids would say if they saw that a classmate's BMI was "high". Kids are mean! If I were you I would be concerned about her emotional well-being too! My son was only 5 when he heard that he was at a risk for being overweight so he didn't understand. By the way, my son is tall for his age, is as solid as a rock (he sinks in water- he does not float at all) and he is SOO skinny that his ribs stick out and he is bony all over. But because he is solid like he is, you look at him thinking he would be "light as a feather" and you can barely move him! Guess they don't take that into account when they throw those percentages at you. I will listen to what the BMI is telling me if it looks like something is wrong with my children. Otherwise they are just a piece of drawing paper for my 2 year old. In my honest opinion they are NOT right for children.
@kayrod2 (1304)
• Australia
17 Jun 07
I am horrified to think that they do this in schools. I dont know of them doing this here in Australia. But i get sick of all the reports of children being overweight. Where do they get all the statistics from? They say 1 in 4 kids are overweight. Well, personally i dont see it. Childrens weight fluctuates till they finish growing. I dont class any of my 5 children overweight, but the 'do gooders' might. No wonder kids end up anorexic or have low self esteem, when so much pressure is put on them. It is like when they eat some junk food. There is nothing wrong with it, as long as it is eaten in moderation. I hope your daughter is alright now, and feeling good about herself. Tell her not to listen to that letter. Best wishes to you, foxy
@estherlou (5017)
• United States
17 Jun 07
Children are so susceptible to criticism and take everything personally, especially at that age! I can't believe they sent the letter with the child. How hurtful! I think I'd complain, even tho' it's already a done deed and would probably not do any good. Things certainly have changed since I had kids in school!
@SignMe (1031)
• India
15 Jun 07
I am not in favour of BMI scale. It need not be the penultimate thing to decide about your health.
@aprilsue00 (1992)
• United States
15 Jun 07
that does sound pretty ridiculous. Definately is not good for a childs self esteem. what does her doctor say. i don't think that the school should even be involved. if her doctor has a concern fine but it is not the schools place.