The GEM Debate:
Is BMI, TMI For Kids At School?
For today’s debate, something that probably started out as well-intentioned but could have disastrous consequences. There was a report today on Good Morning America about kids and BMI, or Body Mass Index. The BMI, in case you’re not familiar, is a measurement based on a person’s height and weight. It’s designed to identify possible weight problems. And that brings us to today’s debate.
Some school’s, according to the report on GMA, are taking kids BMI measurements and then sending them home to parents, the message being that children may be in danger of developing weight/health problems. Isn’t this something that should be done by the family doctor if the doctor or I as the parent, deem it necessary? I think so.
In today’s day and age, I am all about teaching our children to live an active and healthy lifestyle. Neither of my kids have ever had a Body Mass Index recorded as of yet but I have a few problems with this.
I do understand the doctor’s point; BMI is the best measurement we have to date, but are we setting ourselves, and our kids, up for problems down the road?
I worry, as do the mothers in the piece, about piling on self-esteem issues to kids who might already have them as a result of struggling with their weight. I mean, you can always diet, but repairing self-esteem can be a much bigger issue.
With all of the pressure kids face at school with regards to fitting in, I’m thinking that giving students their Body Mass Index at school is going over the top and adding fuel to what already might be a fire with some kids. It’s hard enough to have the “in” clothes, the “in” shoes, the “perfect” hair.
And let’s not forget, BMI, while the best tool we have to date, is not perfect. Remember Dallas Cowboys’ Emmitt Smith? One of the best pro running backs of all time was technically obese due to his muscle mass.
So what do we tell our kids, like the young woman at the beginning of the piece who said she was taller and more muscular than the rest of her class? Just ignore the numbers?
With obesity numbers on the rise, I’m all for doing what we need to to get kids healthy but I can’t, in good conscience, do it at the expense of their self-esteem.
What do you think? Are BMI report cards from the school a good idea? Or should this be left to the family physician?
While I do think it’s great for the schools to create awareness about kids being healthy, I feel that presenting them with a “Fat Report Card” is really crossing a line that doesn’t need to be crossed at a school.
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Jackie is a work-at-home mom of two kids (15 & 11), wife of 20+ years to the greatest husband and dad, and owner of Jackie’s Magical Moments, where she blogs about about experiences she has with her vacation-loving family. In the summer of 2010, Jackie and her family, moved across the country to Savannah, GA so they could live closer to all of the fun that the central Florida area has to offer. Jackie travels to the Orlando area at least once every other month as work and school schedules allow. She makes it a point to try something new on every trip and it never gets old! Follow her on Twitter at @jjzmgailey