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In California and 19 other states, parents receive letters if their child is obese in grades 5, 7, and 9. School staff measures a student’s BMI during the mandatory Physical Fitness Test. Parents receive a letter with their child’s scores and a statement of health risk if the student failed to complete a portion of the test and/or had a high BMI. Certain school districts mail their own additional letters to those with weight issues outlining risks of obesity and helpful pamphlets.

Many parents are concerned that that these letters could be used as a mechanism for bullying and promote eating disorders. Others believe obesity should not be stigmatized or a classification and that parents should be aware of the health risks. Over 1/3 of children and adolescents are overweight and obese.

Think About:

1. Some parents say a child’s overall health or BMI it is not the school’s business. What do you think?
2. Is BMI an accurate measure of obesity? How accurate?
3. Statistics show that 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat and 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner. Do these statistics predict any negative effects of the “fat letters”?

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