EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWS"Fitness-Gram" Report Cards Weigh In On Children's Body Mass Index
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Bethany Simmons
Web Producer: Bethany Simmons
Also Contributing: Bianna Golodryga, ABC News
Reported: Sep. 4, 2013 11:46 AM EDT
Updated: Sep. 4, 2013 1:18 PM EDT
Some students are being graded on more than just their classwork.
It's being called the "Fat Letters," a controversial report card that schools across the country are sending home to parents showing whether kids are passing the grade when it comes to Body Mass Index.
Parents fear, however, it will lead to bullying and low self esteem for their children.
Middle school student Lucy Williams has multiple report cards to worry about: the one concerning her academic grades and another one concerning her weight.
"I'm insecure because I'm taller than a lot of girls in my school, and I'm also bigger than a lot of them. I'm not incredibly skinny," Williams said.
The "Fitness-gram" Williams recently received from her school is part of a growing initiative to track students' Body Mass Index.
Schools in 19 states from Arkansas to Illinois are taking part, measuring students at annual weigh-ins, then sending reports home to parents indicating whether a child is in the green healthy zone or the red danger zone.
Pediatricians said BMI readings are helpful in combating childhood obesity.
"Right now, it's the best means we have to determine whether a child's weight is healthy or unhealthy," Dr. Lanre Omojokun Falusi of the American Academy of Pediatrics said.
Eating disorder experts worry, however, that the readings do more harm that good.
"I would like to see BMI testing in schools banned," said Claire Mysko with the National Eating Disorders Association. "For those who are already insecure about their weight, these tests can potentially trigger an eating disorder."
More than 40 percent of 9- and 10-year-old girls have already been on a diet and as many as 60 percent of all 6- to 12-year-olds are worried about their weight.
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