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Does an “F” on your report card now stand for “Fat”?

The so-called “obesity crisis” makes headlines frequently, with pleas for parents to better control what their children eat and force them outside in order to get some exercise. Clearly it’s easier said than done, and schools may soon be stepping in with some radical changes proposed by health and childhood professionals, such as including a child’s physical fitness and weight on their report cards.

Schools in the US have been doing this for some time: “You can see schools telling parents about the progression of their children with BMI and physical activity. To me that’s just as legitimate a report as the progress on mathematics or latin or any other subject they do at school.”

Concerns over how parents will respond to these reports focus on: “…whether individual student BMI information should be sent home to parents … [and] what type of health related communication from the school to the family is most likely to result in positive behavior changes?”

and the not so positive outcomes: “…the letters sent home with report cards have been a shock. Many parents threw them out, outraged to be told how much their children should weigh, or unconvinced that children who look just fine by local standards are too large by official ones. Seventh-graders traded scores during their lunch periods.”

But to me, the more important issue here, and one that is lacking representation in the media, is how these results are going to affect the student, when:

Eating disorders have been diagnosed in children as young as 8 with an average age of onset at 17 years.

1 in 20 Australian women admitted to having suffered from an eating disorder, while 1 in 4 individuals know someone who has an eating disorder.

With this information at hand, how can a BMI report card possibly be a responsible approach to dealing with the issue of obesity?

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