Schools sending students home with “fat letters” classifying them as obese or fit

Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, September 6, 2013

Detention notices aren’t the only scary letters that schools are sending home with kids anymore.

According to Medical Daily, schools in 19 states have started to conduct annual weigh-ins of students that test for their body mass index, the primary measurement used to determine if someone is overweight or obese, and then sending students home with reports – or “fat letters” – of the results.

“We look at growth charts and percentiles. And when a child is at 95 percent of their…we can look at weight for age or weight for height…that child would be considered obese,” Lauren Schmitt, a registered dietitian in California who measures the weight of hundreds of preschoolers in the San Fernando Valley, told CBS Los Angeles.

She added that out of the 900 pre-schoolers she looks at annually, roughly 200 are considered obese. “We let the parents know in a gentle fashion, but we also send out a ton of handouts to try to help that family,” she said.

The letters have angered many parents and health experts, who believe that sending children home with “fat letters” can damage their kids’ self-esteem by putting them under too much stress to stay fit.

“The last thing they need is the school to now step in … ‘You’re too skinny,’ ‘You’re too fat,’” Hope Green, a mother of two school-aged children in upstate New York, told ABC News.

Claire Mysko of the National Eating Disorders Association believes that sending home students with reports of their BMI could result in them developing eating disorders.

“I would like to see BMI testing in schools banned,” she told ABC News. “For those who are already insecure about their weight, these tests can … potentially trigger an eating disorder.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one in three children and adolescents are considered overweight or obese, which puts them at a higher risk for a variety of health issues, including asthma, sleep apnea, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

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