BMI Grade Cards at School

Today I read about something that made me feel sick to my stomach.

Besides grade cards telling you how your child is doing in reading and math, now schools would like to send home a BMI grade card too.

Do you know what BMI is? It's short for Body Mass Index, a measure for body shapes based on your weight and height. This BMI report card is to let you know if your child is a healthy weight or overweight.

Can you imagine if you got one of these when you were a kid? Mine would have been covered in chocolately finger prints because I had to eat a pint of Ben & Jerry's just so I could deal with the utter shame.

It was embarrassing enough in school when I could never climb to the top of that stupid rope in gym class while my jackhole gym teacher in his awful stretchy "coach" shorts yelled at me to "Dig!" I felt fat and sluggish enough, thank you very much. I don't know what I would have done if I had to have my BMI calculated in front of my peers. The thought of it gives me the shakes.


Receiving one of these grade cards would have done nothing to help me lose weight. I joke about the Ben & Jerry's, but that's not far from the truth. I'm a sad eater. I eat when I feel lonely, sad, stupid, etc. Getting a grade card telling me that I'm an overweight little sloth would have been all I needed to down an entire bag of Lay's. A grade card like that would have sent me over the edge and as a preteen and teen, I was pretty damn close to the edge. The last thing I needed was another piece of paper telling me how disgusting I was. Because that's how I felt. I didn't need the school to tell me that.

I've got two kids who are both solidly built. Neither of them is fat or even close to obese. They are both high on the growth charts at the doctor's office, but well within the healthy range. They look around their classrooms and see their friends with their bony knees and their sharp elbows and their petite frames and ask me, "Mom, am I fat?"

They know how much they weigh and they compare their number with their friends and tell me, "Mom, I weigh five pounds more than Karsen! Am I fat?"

I have to explain to them that they are built differently. They are muscular and tall. Their pediatrician assures them they are healthy and that at this age everyone has different shapes and that's normal.

I do not want to give them another number to obsess over. I do not want them to start worrying about their BMI and how it compares to others.

Yes, childhood obesity is a problem and it typically starts at home. HOWEVER this what our doctors are for. My doctor is our medical professional and he is the one whose advice I take in regards to my children's health. He is the one who I trust to tell me if my kids are healthy or not.

I don't need the school to police this one for me. I really don't think they're the right person for the job. Especially when they start cutting down on gym and recess and serving absolute shit on a shingle my kid. Here is just an example of this month's actual menu at my children's school:

Chicken Nuggets
French Toast Sticks with Sausage Patties
Country Breaded Steak
Beef & Cheese Nachos
Pepperoni Stuffed Sandwich
Fish Treasures

Now, there is always a "healthy" option of Uncrustable Sandwich with Pretzel Nugget & Dipping Yogurt or Yogurt & String Cheese with a Muffin. However, when my son is met with the choice of a chicken nugget of any kind or a yogurt and muffin, he will always choose the nugget. Plus, I'm not sure an "Uncrustable" or a muffin is much better than a nugget.

Schools: heal thyself.

I'm not saying my kid is going to enjoy eating kale and spinach salad, but we have some sort of chicken patty/nugget/stick product twice a week. If schools are so worried about kids' BMIs then maybe stop serving this crap. It's so bad that I limit the number of times each week my kids can buy.

Let me make a prediction. The more widespread this new grade card becomes, the more we'll see headlines freaking out about how the numbers of young children with anorexia and bulimia are on the rise.

And then what will the solution be for that?

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82 comments:

Erin McDermid said...

Hear hear!! I'm lucky enough to be able to send my kids with lunches, and they only buy once and a while (even luckier that they prefer my lunches to the schools!) but what about those kids who the free lunch is their ONLY option. And what about those kids between growth spurts. My 9 year old was a bit heavy this past year, but grew an inch or so over the summer and has slimmed down a bit. He gets regular exercise, healthy food and limited snacks/dessert... the dr says he's healthy. The schools should not be doing this. If they are concerned about kids then have a PRIVATE meeting with parents (don't tell the kids the number!)and confirm they get regular dr visits. IF they do - they leave it to the dr and family. For those families who don't have regular doctor visits, fine, great time for the school to step in and talk to the parents... on a case by case basis!

Roxanne said...

Unfortunately,I can completely relate with this post. My daughter has always been in the 99% for her height range. She has always been roughly 8-12 inches taller than others her age. When she was in Kindergarten they started doing the BMI rating. She brought it home and it said she was very obese. I started bawling, my child was no where near obese. She was actually very healthy, not too skinny and not much fat on her at all.
The thing is...it goes by weight...and the average weight of that age..nothing about height. She was upset to be called very overweight. In kindergarten she was 48 inches tall. The average height was around 40 inches. So obviously she is going to weigh more than the children that are 8 inches shorter.

I think it is absurd that the school sends these home with the children in their folders. If they want to weigh them, and calculate it without the children knowing, and then send it home to the parent in the mail...FINE...but do not subject my child to telling her she is extremely obese, when she is no where near obese.

Oh, I wanted to comment on the school lunch thing also. Our school changed to a grant program from the government, and has strict rules on what can be served. It is very healthy....and guess what.....The kids go hungry, because they will not eat the majority of it. I have to send cold lunch to school on the majority of the days so they will not go hungry. We eat fairly healthy at home, but the healthy stuff at school is awful. My kids love fruits and veggies, but the main courses are awful at the school. I know first hand of the changes since my mother is the head cook of the high school, and watches all the food basically go in the trash.

Thanks again for the amazing post!

DRE said...

My BMI indicates that I am obese. Sunday I ran 7 miles at a 10 minute per mile pace and this morning I ran 3.5 miles at about a 9 minute and 30 seconds per mile pace.

Did I let myself go a bit? Yes, I'm 40 and I enjoy my beer, but when I think obese, I don't think about people who are able to train for a half marathon as I'm doing. I have some muscle that I like to believe contributes to my weight.

The point is the "obese" label doesn't motivate me to better myself, if anything, it makes me feel more ashamed of what I weigh. Kids don't need that, especially from the school. You're right about that!

Roxanne said...

Forgot to add...she just had her 8th birthday on the 4th of September. She is now 57 inches (4ft 9inches)and 87 lbs. With still another year of growing, but the average 8 year old girl is about 50 inches tall. So once again she will be extremely obese for the 4th year in a row.

Chris Meister said...

O.M.G. How is it possible that anyone could think this is okay? Our children, and our girls in particular, are bombarded with images of stick-like women who are "beautiful and perfect." My 10 year old, whose pediatrician told her "you are perfect" (referring to height/weight) still asks me all the time "am I fat?" or, worse, "Mommy, I am fat - why am I so fat?" It makes my heart ache.

Roxanne said...

Wanted to clarify...Adults BMI is calculated by height and weight. Children's BMI is calculated by weight and average size by age. Total crap if you ask me!

Jenna said...

I remember being in high school during the Fitness craze of the 80s. Arnold was telling everyone to "pump up"! Once a quarter our gym teachers made us get all kinds of stupid tests, including blood pressure. I think they skipped the scale at least. But I remember my teachers cracking on me because my blood pressure has always been low. Every quarter she would ask me if I was even alive. I found that annoying and offensive enough. I can't imagine if she had been allowed to check my weight too. If the school isn't going to offer a reasonably healthy lunch, regular gym classes every day, and free medical care, then they can quit acting like they care about our kids' health.

Jenna said...

Yes it is. My kids have always been tall for their age. I let their pediatrician check their health and he assures me they are both very healthy. If our school decides they will do this, my kids are getting a note from home excusing them and a letter to the principal stating that it damn well better NOT happen!

Julie said...

Ugh - you comment makes me very mad at your daughter's school on her behalf.

Carrie Sparrow said...

Right on Momma! By the way, my daughter's school serves funnel cake for breakfast on Fridays. FUNNEL CAKE...the same deep fried dough covered in sugar one would purchase at a carnival. I assume deep fried Snickers bars are next, maybe a little cotton candy as a side dish. SMH.

Roxanne said...

I completely agree Julie! Sadly this is how all schools do their BMI. It is really going to affect the self-esteem of the children. Especially when all you see on tv is tiny, skinny perfect models.

As far as the lunch program goes...not all schools are doing it now, but it will change soon. I will just continue to send them healthy homemade lunches.

Melissa said...

My son was upset last year when he brought home a report that said he was obese according to the BMI index. I contacted the school and the physical department for the school district. I was told that this is a statewide practice in Texas and that there was nothing they could do as far as sending home the report. I told them that the report should be sealed and not discussed with the children and given to the parents just for their information. My son already obsesses over his weight and doesn't realize that he will soon hit a growing spurt and lose all of this baby sad he has had all of his life.

Roxanne said...

That is a great idea Jenna. I contacted the school before and they told me is was protocol. Well it wont be this year...not on my watch, and my children.

Roxanne said...

Same thing my school said. I completely agree with the kids not having to see this. Either seal it up or mail it to the parent. Just one more reason to have kids bully each other. :(

Unknown said...

This is infuriating. Not to mention that the BMI chart, for both adults and children, is massively, massively flawed. Serena Williams is overweight on that chart. Ridiculous.

Also re the healthy vs unhealthy lunches: does that school know there are ways of providing a healthy lunch that doesn't equal "not enough food for a kid"? because the healthy lunches as you described them are not healthy so much as "diet". How about vegetables and fruits and things being incorporated into the regular food?

Relatedly, I am terrified by a "fish treasure". Is that...bait?

Sarah said...

Last year, my sixth grade daughter brought home a note from her gym class stating that they would be measuring BMI and I declined for her to participate. This is an age where young people are extremely self conscious, and focusing on BMI, which is a dubious measurement by any standards, is not acceptable to me. I spoke directly with her gym teacher and we came up with an alternate health test, where she ran laps. This year, I relaxed slightly and allowed them to take her measurements, with the strict direction that they not tell her the results. She is tall and slim, but that to me is not the standard of health. I am far more concerned with her cardiovascular fitness. BMI is a waste of time and not a number children should even be contemplating.

Mrs. Stephens said...

I have a 50" tall 42 lb 5 yr old. The child eats like a teenage boy but gains nothing. When we did her kindergarten sign up stuff my husband saw the BMI paperwork we have to sign and went straight to the principal and told her its not the school nor the governments business what my childs BMI is that is between us and her pediatrician. we got an opt out waiver signed. But i look at the lunch and breakfast menu and am disgusted. My daughter bought lunch twice and said it was slimy and she didn't eat it. So every day she takes a turkey sandwich, small salad or snap peas, applesauce, milk, and 2 Oreo cookies. Someone told me i shouldn't be giving her the cookies and i told them they could shove the cookies up there @$$. Apparently treats are not necessary and im spoiling her but the school can serve in one weeks time chips, pop tarts, jell-o cake, super buns (honey buns), and donuts, not to mention juice with every meal. my daughter doesn't get that much crap in a months time at home.

KelleyB said...

Not just anorexia and bulimia! Think about BMI Report Card day. If it says you're healthy, you'll show it off to everyone in your class, on the bus home from school, etc. If it say's you're overweight or obese, you'll hide it. All the other kids know that if you're hiding it, you're "overweight" or "obese", and the teasing begins. This kind of bullying leads to cutting, or worse ... Horrible, horrible protocol!

spymay said...

Absolutely! My BMI indicates that I'm obese for my height also, yet I'm in training to get my second degree black belt and can spar several rounds at a fast pace.
Could I stand to lose some weight?You bet and I am slowly working on that.
But I am definitely healthier than someone at the same weight who does not work out.

Jen Piwtpitt said...

I believe it's a fish stick, but I'm just guessing here.

Unknown said...

I agree with you in regards to trusting in your pediatrician. BMI is the bane of my existence! My 10 yr old is considered obese based on his BMI, but he has to wear 12 SLIMS - he needs the length, not the width. Our doctor saw the flag next to his BMI, said that he was required to note what the number was and then assured me that I had nothing to worry about. He knew my son was an excellent eater, told me to continue encouraging his current eating habits and to prepare him (and myself) for many more conversations in the future because far too many "professionals" obsess over a highly inaccurate number.

Kayla said...

I teach FACS at the middle and high school level and I really push students to think beyond the number. I have each of the students test for their BMI.

We then talk about healthy choices and how muscle weights more than fat, but that fat is necessary for your body functions. I ask them if they think I am fat (they say no) and I show them my BMI which indicates that I am overweight. They usually scoff at it and I tell them that BMI is only and indicator or an issue, further investigation should always be done.

The parents freaking over this need to do more research - as does the administrator that decided this was a good idea.

NKL said...

I do think it is good to teach healthy lifestyle choices to the kids in their PE and Health programs, but not to measure and report the individuals' data! Children are required to be up-to-date on annual check-ups, sports physicals and vaccinations. Children's BMI and physical health should be between the pediatricians and parents. This type of report should not be coming through schools at all.

liz smith said...

You can't even use a BMI to say a kid is obese!!!!!! Not that it is much better but it is "at risk for obesity" and ht and wt still have to be taken in consideration. I want to use a million exclamation points to express how angry that makes me!

And BMI is a possible indicator of health not a true reading. I sit on the state health committee for obesity and one of our docs says all the time "fat and fit" is better than a "skinny couch potato" The research shows that activity level not BMI is the truer indicator of long term health.

Ricci M Fuentes said...

At my "ideal" weight, I was consuming 1,000 calories and working out for 2 hours, I was constantly getting sick, I was anemic too. Now, I'm considered obese and I work out 3-4 days a week and eat healthy, whole foods that I prepare myself at home. This BMI crap isn't a one size fits all type thing. It isn't for adults and it sure as hell isn't for kids who are growing all the time. I'd rather be considered "obese" and be healthy now (no diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol) than to be killing myself to be at my "ideal" weight.

Unknown said...

BMI is a terrible way to measure healthy and fit! Look at how fit boxers, MMA fighters, (some) Pro-teams players are, but because their MUSCLE weighs more than what FAT they have they are considered Obese or grossly obese. REALLY?! The BMI needs to go back to the drawing board and calculate in, bone structure and body types (there is no one size fits all when it come to our bodies, unless you count anorexic). I weight lift, bike, I'm active and I'm getting more fit every day, I'm a 31 year old woman and I see guys in the weight room who are CUT and defined with some to no fat on their bodies and they are considered obese (seriously, I wish I had that problem) Height and weight cannot calculate everything, I'm not a petite boned woman, I'm a Mid-Western medium to big boned woman, but I'm SOLID, I carry my weight well, and I'm not a jiggly mass of cellulite like the BMI tries to indicate.

Kelly said...

I thought it was well understood now that BMI is not an accurate tool to determine a person's health and fitness. I think the last time I was told my BMI was something like 10 years ago, and my number indicated that I was borderline overweight. This was at a time in my life when I was at my most fit, athletic, and muscular. As noted by other readers above, BMI doesn't take into account differences in musculature. A person who is short could be extremely muscular. Muscle weighs more than fat. The BMI scale would tell that person that they are overweight or obese because their ratio of height to weight says so. And that's the BMI scale for adults...

This is why some doctors are getting away from putting all of the health emphasis of an individual on their BMI measurement... and why, for example, my doctor doesn't discuss my BMI with me.... as long as she knows that I'm doing my best to lead an active and healthy lifestyle with exercise and healthy diet, and the combination of my EKG, blood pressure, respiratory health, reflexes, and blood work indicate no cause for concern.

If the BMI scale for kids compares weight to AVERAGE height for that age, that's even more flawed, because every kid grows at a different rate. The school and/or the government has no business getting involved in kids' health issues. Kids' health issues should be left between the pediatrician, who is more of an expert in health than the school district or the government, and the parents. Schools have one main purpose: to educate our children. Teach them to read, write, add, subtract, etc. Teach them to learn and think critically. Teach them about effective ways to interact and socialize with their peers. Meanwhile, only the pediatricians that we all chose to provide the health care for our children should be the ones evaluating their level of health.

This is ridonkulous!

Jen said...

Just last week my daughter brought home homework for gym class. It stated that she had to exercise at least 20 minutes a day on the other 4 days she did not already have gym class at school. It says that as the parent I am to make sure she does all three types of exercises listed and that the parents are to sign off that she did this, otherwise her PE grade will be affected. Needless to say, I was ticked. She already has gym 3 days a week. My daughter plays soccer, softball, bowling and swims. At home, she is outside 98% of the time riding bikes or running around with friends. I don't think that on top of that I should have to force her to do a structured exercise program 4 days a week. I don't need my 7 year old, who is very healthy according to her pediatrician, thinking that she needs to exercise 7 days a week because the gym teacher thinks she's fat by their standards. I am terrified of the consequences these kinds of things can have down the road...

lovetoread600 said...

"Is that...bait?" Best. comment. ever!!!!

Unknown said...

This will just aid in students being bullied by other kids.

Confessions of a PTO Mom said...

My daughters, ages 6 and 8, will sometimes ask me if they look fat. Really?? They are 54 and 59 pounds, respectively. And 49 and 52 inches tall, respectively.
What exactly do they want to teach children? I've had my share of battles with my school over the last 9 months. We live very near Sandy Hook, CT, just a few towns over. The safety protocols are over the top. Now this. I'm beginning to think about homeschooling my children, something I never really agreed with, because I think children need the social aspects that schooling brings. But at what cost to my girls?

Unknown said...

I have to agree with all the commenters about the flaws of the BMI system, and the dichotomy of school focusing the children's BMI while serving those lunches... However, it has been demonstrated that for younger children (under 5 yo), parents often underestimate their children's weight and overfeed them, so that they are "plump". This behavior puts the children at risk of obesity later in life because they don't learn to self-regulate their food intake. Don't send a BMI report card, but early intervention with the parents through a physician (school or otherwise) is beneficial. It doesn't need to focus on the fact that a child is "too fat", but to make sure the parents know that their children are not "too skinny" when they are not. So, yeah, BMI report card is a bad idea all around, an half-a**ed effort by the schools to do "their part", but I'm not ready to prohibit any kind of intervention from concern educators.

Wendy at Taking the Long Way Home said...

We need to educate parents on what constitutes a healthy weight/BMI and what is proper portion size for a child. In my practice, I use the BMI to validate to parents whether a kid is overweight, a healthy weight, or underweight. I see a fair number of patients who come in because their parent tells me the kid doesn't eat...or thinks they are too thin. Most of the time, neither statement is true, it is the expectations of the parents that need to be addressed.

Maybe the school could take a bigger role in managing childhood obesity by first stop serving crap like chicken nuggets and pizza for lunch; one of my patients, an overweight youngster who attends an after school program (at her school) told me they were being served pizzas and nachos for an afterschool snack! Seriously? I'm working with her and her mother to help control her weight. Her mom had me write a letter to the program telling them she could only eat her healthy snacks from home. How dare the schools call out the parents on this when they themselves aren't doing anything to make lunchtime and snack time more healthy!

Wendy at Taking the Long Way Home said...

Unlike the growth chart (height and weight), the BMI scale doesn't compare kids to other kids; it is a calculation for that particular child; weight for height. And that is how I explain it to the parents that I see in the office.

Unknown said...

Please don't automatically blame the school. I live in Ohio, and the state told schools they need to do this. There were ways around it, and I'm happy my school chose to work out a way not to comply with the mandate. However, this was a mandate handed down to the district from our state legislators. Just another thing the state hands down to the schools and the schools get blamed for!

Shinianen said...

Didn't anyone else go to a school that did this?

I'm a child of the 80's, and my school did this every year... and I would dread it every year. I remember one of the helpful "tips" on my report was to eat more vegetables. Coming from a home where I wasn't allowed to leave the table until I did so, I always got irritated with that feedback.

While I agree this is not a ideal means to an end, we have to remember something...

There are plenty of children who don't have a positive influence at home. In fact, at my school where I was being "tested", many of the kids barely made it to school in clean clothes every day (and sadly, some actually didn't wear clean clothes). I'm willing to guess that meant those kids also didn't have involved parents who took them to the doctor or taught them about healthy eating, etc.

I honestly think the school is doing their best to start a conversation with children regarding the obesity epidemic, even if it's not really doing a great job at it.

While I hate the BMI scale as much as the next person (see my blog post about it), at least this creates a opportunity for you to review the report with your child and have a conversation about what their body image is. It also gives you the opportunity to help your child mold a positive body image for the future.

I also think having a conversation with your kid about a print out is far better than never knowing what your child was taught at school to begin with... no print out might mean a missed opportunity to have a conversation with your child and correct any false information they were provided.

Unknown said...

Our school doesn't do the bmi reports but does participate in the govt grant where every student regardless of income gets free breakfast & lunch. Mine REFUSE to eat the lunch most of the time because they say it's "totally nasty" but I do make them eat the breakfast. It's cereal with milk & juice literally everyday. How can that get screwed up? Also, it saves me a good 15mins every morning!

shannon said...

I can't tell you how much I appreciate your words. My 9 year old 4th grader brought home his BMI results last fall (one week after he had his 9 year old physical) with the news that he was morbidly obese. He was very upset as was I! I immediately called our pediatrician to ask about the results as they had expressed no concerns about his weight just the week before. According to the scale used by our pediatrician AND the American Academy of Pediatrics not only was my not morbidly obese, he fell into the 50% percentile for children his age, weight, and height. I wish I had NEVER agree to let this be done at school. I will not make that mistake with my younger son and I tell all the parents I know to decline this screening.

Unknown said...

When I was a senior in high school, I signed up for aerobics as one of my PE credits. I sucked at sports, so I figured it would be the least traumatic option. I was wrong. Each week we had to line up, weigh ourselves, and record our weight so we could track our progress throughout the semester. And one weekend we had to write down everything we ate so the teacher could comment on how we could improve our eating habits. I was 17-years-old, and at an impressionable age, so the last thing I needed was for someone to tell me I could weigh less and eat less. Sure, I took some great stuff away from the class, but I think it did more damage than good. And you better believe I would go ape shit if my daughter ever brought home a BMI report card!!

S said...

man my kids went for a bit they loved school breakfast- seemed great as it got them there on time! Well duh they loved it- all sugar cereal all the time! W/ side of teddy grahams. aka stuff mom doesn't buy!
Being vegetarian we've never really eaten school lunch- but it is awful. Can veggies, iceberg salad (if you're lucky enough to see a salad! Found one district that did that) breaded, greasy, tasteless blech.

Unknown said...

I can't even talk about school nutrition without starting to scream and gesture wildly. SCREAM and GESTURE. Throw in some serious overstepping of boundaries with BMI measuring and I'm going to be breathing in a paper bag here in a minute.

J A said...

While I disagree with this method, I think a lot of parents need to have their eyes opened to their children developing weight problems. I tried for years to gently tell my husband that my stepdaughter was overweight and unhealthy, but it didn't click until she was 12 years old and wearing a woman's 16. My concerns kept being dismissed because I am thin myself, and my husband insisted I was being "unrealistic." Neither parent took her to the doctor for regular check-ups, also despite my urging. Now my husband has a pre-diabetic 15-year-old who has extreme difficulty finding clothes that fit, and he can't figure out what happened. I wish SOMEONE in an official capacity had intervened a long time ago.

Faith said...

Sounds like you need a new husband

Jenny P. said...

And this is where the media get all the statistics about how SO many kids are overweight. We got a letter from my son's school a couple of years ago - he was about 8 - with his BMI, and saying that he was overweight. Interestingly, it did include his height and weight. They had the height right - but his weight was a few pounds over his actual weight - as they weighed them with all clothes and shoes on - in winter. When I calculated his BMI with his ACTUAL weight, he was around 50%ile. This kid is very active - short for his age, but plays soccer several times a week, and is always top of his class in the "Pacer" test they do in gym. Since then, I totally do not believe all the statistics about the obesity epidemic - the figures are all so wrong, it's ridiculous.

Gia said...

Regardless of the BMI cards, getting weighed every year can be totes embarrassing if the teachers don't use enough discretion. You're right on about the lunches though. Gross.

AssumeIKnowEverything said...

I just read an article where obese kids who lose weight because of this 'fat shaming' are most in danger of developing anorexia or bulimia because they became preoccupied with their eating.

I was heavy as a child and my father told me that if I didn't lose weight no one would want to be friends with me. Instead of acting like 'Oh yeah, I'll show you and lose weight', I was crushed. I thought, oh my God, I can see other people thinking that way - but my dad feels that way too? Okay, I guess I'll have no friends.

There has to be a better way. Kids are hit with so much at a young age. Shaming them for how they look is just adding fuel to the fire.

If you want to read the article it is here:
http://www.everydayhealth.com/kids-health/0909/for-obese-kids-weight-loss-can-sometimes-lead-to-eating-disorders.aspx?xid=aol_eh-news_4_20130909_&aolcat=HLT&icid=maing-grid7%7Cmain5%7Cdl19%7Csec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D371961

Susan said...

OK, so schools serve crappy food and they've cut out PE, but they're going to tell us when our kids are unhealthy.

"Yeah, so we're not going to help your kid be healthy, but we'll certainly let you know when this antiquated, unproven equation from the 1970s tells us he's become a lard ass."

Jaime said...

At my kids old school, they served a cheese stick for lunch a couple of times a month. I huge, greasy cheese stick. Also pizza.
They did have healthy options but my oldest will ALWAYS choose the cheese stick if given the chance.

I would have been in therapy if my school had done this to me.

HolmanAK said...

THat is crazy! I am a teacher and I don't think BMI has any business being on a report card. Let's all just tattoo our weight, diet, and exercise activities to our heads so EVERYONE can see! That is ridiculous! Sure, we are the fattest country, so add more activity to the day and healthier options for lunch. Be a part of the solution, not the problem. I would DIE if I ever say that on one of my kids' report cards! Move to AK, we don't have that (and let's hope we NEVER do!).

Unknown said...

Our school has been doing this for years. I don't let me children know we get them.

Mommy said...

If our school decides they will do this, my kids are getting a note from home excusing them and a letter to the principal stating that it damn well better NOT happen!

^^^^AMEN!

Unknown said...

The BMI thing happens to adults, too. A company I used to work for had health professionals (some group hired by our insurance provider) to come to the building and perform health screenings-blood pressure, weight, etc. A woman I worked with was about 5'7" and incredibly muscular. Not body-builder, but not lean muscle either. She wore about a size 4. When they weighed her and compared it to her height, she was told (by a nurse) that she was obese. It was ridiculous.

Unknown said...

Texas lady here, and I wonder how the state can afford this testing when they cut the funding to the schools for education. Is this why? "Well, we need to stick our noses further into private matters. How about weight testing at school? Cut the budget and shift that money over for this."

Anonymous said...

This issue has always made me so angry...especially as a former chubby child who ended up with a severe bout of disordered eating in college (I've always said, "I was too heavy to be anorexic, but I was well on my way.")...the main things that irritate me are:

(**Please note that the following may be triggering to those with eating disorders or disordered eating habits. Height, BMI, calorie counting, and weight will be discussed. If any of these topics are triggering for you, please do not read the rest of this comment.**)


1. BMI is such a faulty science I hesitate to even lump it in with any sort of science at all. All it does is establish a height/weight ratio. It does not account for build or muscle density and is not an accurate way to determine health. I remember when I was at my lowest weight while actively entrenched in disordered eating (I was still too heavy to be considered anorexic, but I was trying to eat <1000 calories and burn at least 500 calories through exercise per day, was obsessed with counting calories to the point that I couldn't stop when I tried, and would freak out internally and get pretty tetchy to the people around me if I couldn't seen exactly how many calories I'd burned during a workout.) I was 146lbs at 5'5", which by BMI standards is on the heavy side of normal (only .7 BMI points or 5lbs away from being considered overweight) and was wearing a size 6 in pants, which on my frame is really little. I'm built like my dad, who is like this shortish powerhouse who retains a freakish amount of muscle even when not doing anything physically active. So, to know that I was still considered almost-overweight by this stupid standard irritates me to no end because being a size 6 was probably the smallest I ever SHOULD be. I would look sick if I ever got any smaller than that.

2. Perhaps what infuriates me the most is that KIDS ARE STILL GROWING. Here's how growth spurts work for a lot of kids: they grow and get really skinny and then fill out later. Here's how growth spurts work for some kids: they fill out and grow into their weight. I was 140lbs as a 4th grader, which sounds CRAZY, but my pediatrician said it was fine, said that I was probably about to hit a growth spurt. And sure enough, I did. I stayed 140lbs through middle school (that's when the emotional eating started up) and stopped growing at age 12 or 13 because I started puberty earlier than most. I grew into my weight in less than a year, I'm pretty sure. And, yeah, I felt chubby. And yeah, hearing my mom ask the pediatrician about her concerns with my weight made me feel chubbier. But you know what wouldn't have helped at all? Having a school send home an Official Report of Chubbiness. Because my doctor said my weight was fine and would only become an issue if I continued to gain a ton without growing.

3. Statistically speaking, the kids who are most likely to develop eating disorders are the perfectionist, type-A people. The ones who want the Spotless Attendance Record and who strive for perfection in school projects. THOSE kids. You know who will likely be affected the most by reports like these? The kids most likely to develop eating disorders.

4. Finally, simply, these reports depend on shame of a number for results. Rather than saying, "Eat healthy and participate in healthy activities and you will BE healthy, whatever that looks like for you." they are communicating, "In order to be healthy, you must fall within a certain range." which is just garbage.

Sorry for the lengthy rant. I just have SO MANY thoughts on this as a former chubby kid whose doctor wasn't worried and as a someone who still has to deal with the monster that is disordered eating from time to time even after 5 years of fighting it.

BadParentingMoments said...

Oh girl, you know my thoughts on this. This is a national epidemic. As soon as impoverished families can buy fresh produce and lean meats at the same price as a Happy Meal, we'll start moving in a positive direction. Obesity is not just a social problem, it's an economic development issue. Telling children they are overweight does not even scratch the surface here and no need to tell parents they "should" be giving their children healthier/lower fat options. They KNOW this but, people only have the food dollars they have. Also, in most communities, like mine, a VAST majority of the public school children are on free/reduced lunch. They are getting 2 of their meals there. Let's change the direction of the telescope...

Our Little Lovie said...

Contact the school nurse immediately and let them know you are opting out of this unnecessary "program." Your child is not required to participate in this ridiculousness.

Anonymous said...

Might I suggest submitting this NPR article to the school?: Top 10 Reasons Why The BMI Is Bogus

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=106268439

Anonymous said...

The fact of the matter is, a BMI score wouldn't be helpful to your stepdaughter. Any doctor could tell her that she is overweight and is looking at a long trail of health problems for the rest of her life without going to those scores. The whole BMI system is faulty. Is was created by a mathematician who wanted to chart the rate of obesity in whole countries. When he found that none of the formulas he came up with matched the data at hand, he took the data and backward-engineered the formula.

That's like saying, "The answer is 4; what is the question?" And you say, "2+2=?" and while that could be correct, the question could be "2x+1=?" or "20/10=?" or "How many legs does a dog have?" or "Subtract 1 from the number of licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop. What is the answer?"

The logic used to create the BMI is faulty and isn't remotely applicable to healthy people. It also creates a number-centric idea of health, when, in reality, if you eat healthy and are physically active, you will be healthy. That will look different for everyone.

Anonymous said...

Please read this article before using BMI to validate anything...: Top 10 Reasons Why The BMI Is Bogus http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=106268439

Unknown said...

So many awful things come from well-intentioned idiots.

Nicole Leigh Shaw said...

A-FUCKING-men. I love you Jen. I agree whole-heartedly. Gawd we are of the same mind on everything. Except I didn't get the balls to type it all out on the internet. I'm so, so glad to have you as a friend, Jen. Really and truly.

7th Grade Language Arts - Mrs. Clark said...

AGREED!! I'm so glad that the district where I teach has opted out of calculating and reporting BMI to the parents. Nazi tactics!!

Abby Normal said...

This kind of thing isn't for parents like you. It's for those parents that don't take their kid to a doctor regularly. And you don't mention it, but I would think this kind of thing would be confidential and mailed directly to the parents.
It sucks, but there are a lot of parents out there not parenting, which is why the schools are trying to step in. But then good parents get outraged and the un-parented kids continue to slip through the cracks. The people you need to punch here are the assholes who are not parenting the kids they chose to have.

However, you do have an excellent point about the food. That's the only food some of those kids are getting all day.

summy said...

A. I agree that obesity is a problem, adult and childhood. B. They DO send a letter home with the child in some places. Coincidentally I just talked to a mom today that had it happen locally. She called and bitched and now the send it instead. C. This is just one more example of the government inserting itself where it DOES NOT belong, locally OR nationally. It is absolutely NONE of their business what you feed your kids as long as you do. It may be a bad choice, but it is not theirs to make. This is typical in your face overstepping of power. We're going to tell you how to live, even if it is against your rights, but we're just doing it for your own good. D. The public school system has myriad problems that are SO much bigger and important than this. If they have a problem with how a crappy parent deals with their child they should take it up with said crappy parent and not punish everyone. The system, much like it is outside of school, caters to shitty parents. They are made to believe they are entitled to be a shit parent and aren't held accountable for their child's behavior or their own. Lastly, this is the height of hypocrisy when as this mom said,they shove crap food at these kids to save a buck. The 'first lady' made them change lunch guidelines to be healthier. What this did is give the kids the same crap food they always had, but basically the get more fruit and vegetables that they didn't eat before the change so they just throw more away. I work at a grade school and see it every day. Also hypocrisy because they cram these kids so full of false self esteem mumbo jumbo that they think they should be rewarded for any kind of decent behavior. It's all about making them feel wonderful and rewarding them for mediocrity. Feel good about yourself blah blah. Now they decide it's a good idea to tell kids they're fat?! How's that work. I agree with the woman that it will increase eating disorders and I'll take it a step further and say it'll also increase depression and for young teen girls, probably being suicidal. Body image is everything to them.

Anonymous said...

Well, funnel cake is just fried pancake batter...it's actually less sugary than some cereals, I imagine... and definitely less terrible than donuts, which are accepted as breakfast food all the time. I don't think the schools should be feeding such garbage, but it's one of the least offensive "fair foods"...

Anonymous said...

WHAT?! I would have been considered EXTREMELY obese as a child, then. I was always in the 90th percentile...sometimes even taller. I just stopped growing at 13 rather than growing into high school. Goodness, that's a HORRENDOUS way to do things.

Jenna said...

I'm thinking I might just keep them out of school that day-for their health!

Jenny said...

Thank you for saying this. While I don't agree with the tactic, sending the report home with the child, I can't see where the harm is in notifying a parent of their kids heigh/weight/BMI what have you. We were weighed in school every year, 20+ years ago. It's no different. Unfortunately, we are a society that blames everyone else for our problems and this is just one more example. Have a conversation with your kid about healthy eating, exercise and send them to school with their own lunch. How does that create a complex? I'd be willing to bet the parents aren't eating healthy either. This isn't big government. This is coming from a school where your child spends 40+ hours a week, which is probably more than they spend with you. Why wouldn't they help?

Nicole said...

They do this but yet take gym and recess away. Makes no sense.
Feed them crap for lunch then lock them in classrooms for 7-8 hrs a day sitting at desk.
Bring back organized recess and/or gym class.

TaraLee said...

I'm a pediatric nurse at The Stollery Children's Hospital in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. BMI's are not accurate in children and can only be used as a suggestion in a person of average build. For example, athletes often have incredibly inaccurate BMI's due to muscle mass and body build. Children are the same. Their bodies are too different to use the same calculation on everyone and consider it accurate. But aside from all that, the entire concept is ridiculous! Like our kids need another thing to obsess about. Body image is already a problem amongst our youth, especially young girls inundated with fashion magazines, unhealthy models and actresses who dearly need a cheeseburger. Lets worry about school being about, just a thought here, education. Teach them about a healthy lifestyle, as well as empathy, social conscious and curriculum!

sambycat said...

Fish. Treasures.

Roxanne said...

BMI for children is not based on their own height at all. It is based on the average height for that child's age.

Meg said...

The Federally funded, Breakfast in the Classroom program in which many Title I(schools with a high number of free and reduced lunch participants) schools participate is horrible. Breakfast can consist of one of the following: Pop-Tarts, or Sausage Pancake Wrap, or Cinnamon disks(basically, cookies), or let's not forget Breakfast Pizza. The sugar and fat content in each is staggering. But, hey everyone eats and it's free for them.... something's not right.

RachRiot said...

"Hey kid- you're fat! Nah, we're not going to have P.E. today.. oh, but here's a plate of chicken nuggets!" SMH.

Unknown said...

WTF!?!?! Where the crap is that happening?? This infuriates me!! I have tiny kids who have always been off the growth charts but that doesn't matter. I can't even....I'm almost speechless!!!

cowtailsandhaybales.com

Wendy at Taking the Long Way Home said...

The formula to calculate has you enter the child's height and weight: wt.(lbs)/ [height (inches)]squared X 703

The CDC has a great page explaining this if you want to know more.

gaomom said...

This whole thing is BS to me. It is seriously NOT the school's business to decide whether my child is fat or not. Eating disorders will certainly be on the rise. I know I would have been devastated if I was told I was fat as a kid. Our school is pushing "healthy" eating so much that my daughter is afraid to put anything in her mouth now. I sent my son in with a bag of BAKED chips for snack which came from the SCHOOL CAFETERIA and his teacher told him to tell his mom that he can't have this for snack. But we can serve it to them for lunch???? I am a "lunch lady" in our elementary school and when we serve popcorn chicken on a salad, 95% of the kids take the popcorn chicken and an apple because they are forced to take a fruit or vegetable and that is their lunch. 11 bite size pieces of breaded chicken crap, and apple that goes in the garbage, and ff choc milk is NOT a healthy or substantial lunch for these growing kids. My kids take lunch to school 99% of the time. I always pack them some sort of fruit and/or veggie with whatever else I choose to feed them. At least I know they are eating their lunches to get them through the day, and it is way better than the supposed "healthy" lunches we are being forced to serve them now. Thanks Michelle Obama. Don't even get me started.

Anonymous said...

I agree! BMI is a JOKE!! I am always told my BMI is in the "obese" range. I am 43 years old and still a freaking gymnast and a Soldier! I am 5'5" and 175 lbs - sounds heavy, right? But I am super muscular in my legs and arms. BMI does not take into account muscularity. Water Immersion or Bioelectrical impedance analysis (electrical resistance) are the only way to tell what your true Body Fat is. BMI should never be used because it is completely erroneous. It is unconscionable for schools to use this to try and tell parents their children are fat. It is NONE of the schools business unless they see abuse.

Anonymous said...

How can you even calculate a BMI based strictly on weight and not their height - using the "average height" for their age range and not their actual height???? So ridiculous!! I'd be at the next School Board meeting pitching a fit.

BijouxBaby said...

Is there anyone who cares about their kid who doesn't know if they are overweight? If you don't care about your kid, then the school telling you the kid is overweight isn't going to make a bit of difference. Also is there anyone who doesn't know what healthy eating is? Just ridiculous!

Julia K said...

I'm a high school sophomore, and for gym class it is required that we have our blood pressure taken, BMI, height and weight, bicep strength, and then we run a pacer test to see how many times we can run back and forth across the gym before we have to quit because you feel like you can't breathe or you're going to pass out. My gym teacher this year told us that if we aren't in the healthy zone for the pacers, or if we didn't increase from last year, you've gotta run it again. Then at the end of the semester we're each given a "health report card" that has all the results and ranks you on a percentage scale for how healthy you are. It's nothing new, either. Been doing most of these since kindergarten.

Unknown said...

Has anyone heard about the new ppacked lunch REQUIREMENTS?! If your kid is missing something from their lunch they are given one and you get a bill!!!!!

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