A school district in Flagstaff, Arizona, announced that, this fall, it would begin measuring elementary-school students' BMI (body mass index) and sending overweight students home with a letter explaining where they fall on the obesity scale. Flagstaff is not the country's first school district to employ the tactic, which has sparked a nationwide debate between those who consider it suitably aggressive and those who find it intrusive and counterproductive. Are "fat letters" an appropriate way to promote student health? (Watch a local report about "fat letters")
There are multiple problems here: The central issue, says Katherine Lee at About.com, is that "the reports are being issued with little or no guidance to help parents understand that BMI evaluations" aren't necessarily accurate measurements of child obesity. There are much better ways of handling the obesity epidemic, such as ensuring that "kids have enough breaks for exercise and lessons about healthy eating and fitness," and that "school lunches are nutritious."
"Should schools send out BMI letters?"
Teachers should be able to make an impact: Some people think that giving schools power to combat obesity places them in a "nanny role," says Kristina Bui at The Arizona Daily Wildcat. But the fact is that teachers are "more than unfeeling robots reciting math formulas." They're human beings who are invested in the health and well-being of their students — and these letters are an extension of that.
"Pro: Teacher/student relationships go beyond the basics"
Parents should be grateful: Many parents don't understand the full impact of obesity on their children, says The Arizona Daily Star, so they "should be grateful if others, especially those with expertise on the subject of weight, health and nutrition, step in." This problem is only getting worse as "childhood obesity rates have tripled in the last three decades." To combat this, we must "open our eyes, suck down our false pride and do what we can."
"Child obesity has real health consequences"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- After Ferguson: Stop deferring to the cops
- Ferguson riots were terrible — but this racist reaction was worse
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Is it now OK to have sex with animals?
- The hilarious hypocrisy of Republicans complaining about the imperial presidency
- In Ferguson, Michael Brown lost his life — and America's police lost the benefit of the doubt
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- Don't argue about politics this Thanksgiving. Just don't.
- The real story behind Deliver Us From Evil
Subscribe to the Week