Monday, 26 May 2014

'Weight Report Cards'

I've written about this before: schools around the world have been wanting to start sending home 'weight report cards' to parents on their children's weight. Well, one school in New York did just that.
http://nypost.com/2014/05/22/nyc-says-this-girl-is-fat/

According to this, the school mediated each child's weight and height and calculated BMI. Then, each child was sent home with a sealed envelope addressed to their parents. The children didn't see their weights, and they were told not to open the envelopes. However, this little girl opened her letter and read that she was considered to be overweight on the BMI scale. At night, the girl asked her mom if she  was fat - because the letter from school said she was.

I'm infuriated by this. Firstly, why are schools putting such an emphasis on weight and BMI? We all know that BMI is just a tool and not always a reliable indicator of health. It shouldn't be used alone to determine how healthy someone is. This little girl's BMI may be right over the 'normal range', but she certainly isn't fat! There are so many factors to consider, such as genetics, bone and muscle, etc. Also, the issue of weight is personal. Parents take their children for doctors' appointments, where they are weighed and measured. This is to be done under medical supervision, where healthcare professionals can help patients see if their weight is healthy or not. Parents don't need a school telling them that their child is 'fat'. This isn't the role of the school. Yes, I agree that if a child is unhealthy (whether that mean they are over or under weight, problems sour attention, etc), schools are usually the ones to notice because kids are always there. However, sending home a BMI 'report card' isn't necessary, and actually does more harm than good. And what is the rationale behind giving the children sealed envelopes and telling them not to open them? These are children we are talking about! They are curious and will certainly want to open the letters. And when they do, shame and guilt will ensure. Children will compare their results to others. And that is when teasing and bullying will occur.

I don't agree with these BMI report cards. As a nurse, I am more than aware that being under or overweight is dangerous and serious. However, I also know that telling this to a child does more harm than good. Kids are growing and shouldn't be put on diets. Instead, they need to learn how to balance healthy meals with physical activity. Kids shouldn't grow up in schools that are constantly putting emphasis on their weights. Kids shouldn't be subjected to teasing and bullying because they got a certain BMI score. Kids need to go to school and feel safe and confident. If there is an issue with their weight, healthcare professionals can address these. Sending out a report card for BMI makes weight seem to be an evaluation measure for children - as of they are being graded on what they weigh and the number on the scale. This is going to play into negative body images, poor self-este, and even eating disorders. And it sends out the message to kids that their weight is something they can be graded on. These messages are harmful and can really impact children. BMI report cards are simply wrong in my opinion.  There is no place for them. It's sad to see that children around the world are being taught to see their bodies are something to be evaluated on, as a number that determines one' self-worth and success. Society is sensing out co flooring messages to children: we tell them not to worry about their weight and to eat a balanced diet, and to love their bodies. And then we give these same children a report card on their BMI and teach them that their weight is something that determines how good they are. This is sad. I an only hope that with progress, we can come to the correct conclusion. That weight isn't the 'end all'. BMI isn't an accurate tool, and children shouldn't be told that they are overweight and need to diet.

43 comments:

  1. Thanks for rasing the awareness.
    I love "Hey You message"

    lenus

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  2. School rash and over reaction is unacceptable.

    Jack

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  3. It is also my judgement that school action can inflame bullying and teasing more than prevent obesity and endorse healthy eating .

    Penny

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  4. What schools are doing?

    Anne

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  5. This is a source of teasing and bullying and schools should be more careful
    I definitely agree with you and thank you for writing about this.

    Nanaraj

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  6. Schools teach health but should not judge or put their noses in personal issue and create "teasing atmosphere that some immature pupils can misuse"

    Zak

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  7. School teasing should be top priority and health management should be left to health care workers.

    Sebastian

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  8. My weight on school report card??
    What the hill is going on with schools .
    Thanks Marina for voicing your concern.

    Maritza

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  9. I think and encourage parents to complain

    Sally

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  10. I can not understand why schools not aware of some kids can use this for teasing and bullying.

    Recovered ED victim previously survivor now 8 years without any relapse

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  11. I appreciate your enthsiathism to change what is not right.

    Carlos

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  12. My daughter had enough from schools and I support every one stand against weighting pupils even if done privately and sent in sealed envelope.
    I hope educators be as sensitive and as compassionate as you towards others especially students.

    JP( a thankful mother)

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  13. Kids and adults should feel confident and love their bodies and themselves and be proud for who they are rather than weight on the scale .
    I agree Marina school action can inflame teasing at schools.

    With my humble respect

    Muhammad

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  14. Thank you for standing up for our kids

    Magaly

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  15. Yes Marina.
    I wish Schools get it.

    Morandan

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  16. You could be a great teacher and you would help many students .

    Sally

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  17. Yhis is right,schools can assess the marks not the body weight.

    Cindrella

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  18. You will make a wonderful teacher.!!!
    And parent

    Suhana

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  19. I am a teacher and I can not get it.
    I will speak up and raise awareness .
    Good point Marina

    Saroosh

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  20. I have 2 student and I appreciate this post.

    Rodica

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  21. Thank you for addressing this .

    Sandra D

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  22. The post and pictures are very expressive and impressive.
    I support all what you do and you write and proud of you as my teacher and role model in health and life

    Mays

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  23. Marina you are admired for speaking up and stand for kids and teens feelings and emotions .
    This does not underestimate schools concerns re childhood obesity.
    You and me talking about the way they handle the issue (weighing them )
    They forgot this can affect their feelings and may be used as source for bullying.
    Your eyes see a head and better Marina than schools'

    Kapoor

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  24. Your point Marina is your goal and belief in prevention of disease as Ed and mental health before waiting it to happen and then treat.
    Schools not looking ahead as you do.
    I give you an standing ovation

    Irina

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  25. I know the principal of the elementary school and I will speak to her about this.
    I appreciate your care about kids and youth

    Sam Ibrahim
    Burnhamthorpe Mississauga

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  26. Thank you for reaching out to advocate for school kids.

    Gerry

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  27. I hope Schools can listen to this constructive feedback and make the necessary changes

    Eric

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  28. I like your motivation to stand up for kids.

    Anastashia

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  29. I wish I can write a letter to Education Minister.

    Blanchette

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  30. I admire you for maintaining your values and standards.

    Rana

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  31. I am high school student and I appreciate your concern.
    Thank you.

    Nolan

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  32. I admire your hard work and commitment to good cause.

    Afshan

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  33. i remember in grade 2 the teacher weighed every student in front of the whole class, because we were doing a unit on health. i was quite a bit taller than other kids, and likely pudgier. but needless to say it was mortifying

    i swear i am scared for life

    :'(| Clair

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  34. It is not helpful at all to wight kids either in front of the other students or alone .Despite the goal to teach kids and parents to ward off morbid obesity but not at the expense of mental health,trauma and creating invironment for bullying.

    Schools not seeing a head .They only focus on issue and ignoring others.


    Ivanka

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  35. Yes
    Schools meant raise parents awareness about obesity but forget they are hurting mental health of kids.

    Yara

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  36. I have 4 sibs at school and I know what you mean.
    Thank you for speaking up.

    Larivierre

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  37. Hey young lady
    You are always a a head of the game.


    Hernandez

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  38. Schools please listen

    Sasha

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  39. We all need to confront schools

    Pierrettte

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  40. You are making excellent point

    Hamza

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  41. Your post makes lots of sense to me.

    Shanhnaz

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  42. I love reading your blog.

    Magaly

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  43. That child does not look overweight whatsoever !

    Cheryl

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