Schools across U.S. measure body mass index of students
CHULA VISTA, Calif. — The Chula Vista school district not only measures the academic progress of Marina Beltran's second-grader, it also measures her son's body fat.
Every two years, Antonio Beltran, like his classmates, steps on a scale. Trained personnel measure his height and then use the two figures to calculate his body mass index, an indicator of body fat.
The calculation isn't reported to Beltran or her son. Instead it's used by the district to collect local data on children's weight.
Beltran supports her son's school in measuring students because the data has brought in help to address obesity, which can lead to diabetes and other illnesses tied to a lifetime of poor habits. But the practice isn't embraced everywhere.
Other districts have angered parents and eating disorder groups by conducting screenings to identify overweight children and send home what critics call obesity report cards or “fat letters.”
Schools in nearly a quarter of all states record body mass index scores, measuring hundreds of thousands of students.
Massachusetts in October stopped requiring schools to notify parents when a child scores high after reports that the data was not safeguarded enough, “leading to alarm, confusion or embarrassment,” according to the state's public health department. Parents can request the results.
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments â either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.