Recently, acclaimed news reports have shown that increasing numbers of grade schools are including children’s health statistics on their report cards that are sent home to parents. A recently published article in the Huffington Post, “More Schools Including Weight, BMI On Report Cards,” claimed that in fact, this “weight grade” is a growing trend in United States schools today.
According to the article, “These weight report cards at school are the latest weapon in the fight against the growing obesity epidemic in children — rates of high BMIs have tripled over the past three decades and close to one in three American children are now overweight or obese, sparking First Lady Michelle Obama to launch her Let’s Move campaign. The health effects of childhood obesity and high BMI are well-known: excess pounds can lead to heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, asthma and sleep apnea, among other serious health problems in adulthood.”
Staggering statistics, right? This is horrible that our children are suffering these health conditions, and it should not be so. But, what’s more horrible is this approach to correcting the problem. Sending kids home with their weight score on a report card does nothing except make children and parents feel bad. Some kids will feel good is they can proudly declare, “I got and A in math and an A for my weight!” Alternatively, kids will be overwhelmed with feelings of failure if they received poor grades for their weight, even though they achieved excellent scores in all their academic classes. Even worse, how about the child who is already failing in his or her academic courses, and now they feel bad about their body in addition to their intellectual ability, or lack thereof?
And yet the proponents of this stand firm by its benefits, claiming that it’s a needed reality check for parents that are in denial: “A 2010 survey from Trust for America’s Health found that 84 percent of parents believe their children are at a healthy weight, even though almost one third of kids are actually overweight or obese.”
I say no! The reality of these report cards and likely outcome from this type of government initiative is more eating disorders – kids drowning in despair, who stop eating, and possibly going to the extreme of anorexia or bulimia. As more obese kids become discouraged by their BMI report, they may use food to cope with feeling bad about themselves, as they have no positive action plan for embarking on a healthier lifestyle. This could even possibly cause depression and suicide. If you know anyone with an eating disorder (whether it be anorexia or obesity), you will realize that they have severe underlying emotional challenges, many of which date back to childhood experience in and out of the family.
The bottom line? WEIGHT AND BMI ON THE REPORT CARD WILL INCREASE THE CHILDHOOD OBESITY RATE NOT LOWER IT!!!!!