Sunday, January 07, 2007

Obesity "report cards."

NY Times:

The practice of reporting students’ body mass scores to parents originated a few years ago as just one tactic in a war on childhood obesity that would be fought with fresh, low-fat cafeteria offerings and expanded physical education. Now, inspired by impressive results in a few well-financed programs, states including Delaware, South Carolina and Tennessee have jumped on the B.M.I. bandwagon, turning the reports — in casual parlance, obesity report cards — into a new rite of childhood.

The article gives the impression that the student's BMI is stated in a letter sent home to parents, without directly addressing the student. The phrase "rite of childhood" calls to mind public, gym-class measurements in which scores are compared and students are teased, but a letter to parents is hardly that.

Legislators in other states, including New York, have proposed them as well, while some individual school districts have adopted the practice.

Here, in the rural Southern Tioga School District, the schools distribute the state-mandated reports even as they continue to serve funnel cakes and pizza for breakfast. Some students have physical education for only half the school year, even though 34 percent of kindergartners were overweight or at risk for it, according to 2003-4 reports.

The BMI-reporting program is a good idea, but districts should prioritize cafeteria reform before they send letters to parents telling them to deal with their chubby kids.

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