This week we received a letter along with our daughter’s report card that disturbed us both as parents. In short, it states that our daughter’s BMI had been (for some time now) tracked and recorded without our consent. We were also told that we do not “automatically” have the choice to opt out of this tracking. What is meant by that is uncertain at this point. According to the letter, this was achieved by adopting it as part of the physical education curriculum.
BMI stands for Body Mass Index. As admitted in the letter, it is an inaccurate measuring tool that is used to paint a picture of a person’s body fat by weight and height. The problem with this tool is that it does not take into account the person’s bone and muscle density which leads to skewed results. Baylor College of Medicine warned against using this measure with children in this report because it incorrectly labels children as obese and others in need of more fat. It also implies that health professionals are best for assessing the overall body fat of a child.
The International Journal of Obesity calls into question the use of BMI as an accurate way to measure body fat in this article and Medical News Today published two studies by two universities that found inaccuracies in how the BMI was measured in athletes. That report can be found here.
Finally, a report of 11,000 subjects in 2010 stated that it is not a good measure for heart-related issues. As mentioned before, the letter we received acknowledges that BMI is not a reliable measure.
So if I was stranded on a desert island and my choices for food were rats or nothing you’re saying I should eat rats?
How about thinking outside of the box and going fishing?
Even if BMI was an accurate tool, should schools be the ones to measure and track this? What about the emotional effect on your child when they receive a letter stating that they are obese or underweight when they are clearly not? What about peer pressure when they start discussing it among themselves? Ever heard of bullies? This is simply fodder for them and studies show that weight bullying leads to eating disorders later in life.
Whatever method is used to determine your child’s health should be used by your child’s doctor! Tracking BMI has little to do with physical education and more to do with health which in the public school system gives parents the choice of opting out when it comes to screenings. I’ve already spoken to several healthcare professionals (including a surgeon) who stated that these are efforts best left to professional healthcare providers.
Why not offer the option for BMI tracking?
Better yet, why not inform the parents?
The important fact in the matter is that a faulty system is being used to track our daughter’s BMI without our consent and that we (as we are told) have no choice in the matter. Whether or not the method is faulty is secondary to having the freedom to choose.
We have an amazing pediatrician who does an excellent job of informing us of any concerns during her physical or appointments. Just to illustrate how well a school system can track students BMI vs a pediatrician, my daughter’s chart lists her as weighing 20 lbs. and 1’11”. We also found that many of the other parents did not receive a similar letter. How’s that for making us feel special.
That’s right, she’s listed as 20 lb child the size of a vase.
I think our doctor can do a better job. We will be calling her in the morning.
If you’re a parent and concerned about this by all means, share your thoughts on this website. We will also conduct a poll which we hope that you’ll participate in.
For now, I’m going to go put some flowers in my little “vase” and tell her that she’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
I’ve added a poll below. Let us know what you think!
Leonardo Ramirez is an author of Science Fiction and Fantasy books for all ages. For more info, please visit http://leonardoverse.com and sign up for the blog.