Georgia State has just introduced a bill that would have schools tracking a child's body mass index (BMI). So in addition to reading, writing, math and other subjects we may be asking them to track a child's BMI. Learn more about your child's BMI.
The bill would require schools to record this score twice a year. That means in addition to teaching there would need to be two days a year where they would have to obtain weight and height measurements and then calculate each child's BMI.
Other states like Arkansas, Florida, South Carolina and West Virginia have already started requiring schools to measure this.
I have mixed emotions about this. The best place for BMI monitoring is in the pediatrician's office. Each visit whether it be for routine exam, immunizations or sick visits should always include a quick BMI check. This is really a health issue and needs to be treated as such with proper nutrition counseling, resources and a family discussion of goals to improve the family's eating and activity habits.
But then I ask myself what about the kids without insurance, who don't go to the doctor routinely or worse, pediatricians that don't monitor BMI scores?
I am not here with an easy answer but rather questions to think about:
Do the schools have the resources to add this extra activity? Would it be a very stressful, maybe even embarrassing day for the child who is overweight? Are parents' given enough information to help understand what a BMI score is? What about healthy eating? Are the kids that don't eat healthy but happen to be a "normal" BMI score going to get completely overlook? Are these scores accessible to their pediatricians? What are we doing with the data?
I know we have a real problem on our hands, but I am not sure that mandating schools is the answer? How about mandating the health community? For me, I think focusing on providing a good education to kids with a good nutrition education program, healthy meals, PTA awareness and outreach programs and mandated PE classes would be a better use of resources.
What do you think?
Resources: Find out what your child's Body Mass Index score is.
Learn more about a child's Body Mass Index score is.