Monday, January 08, 2007

Obesity Report Cards

In an attempt to bring the childhood obesity epidemic home, state legislatures and school boards have adopted a policy recently of sending body mass index scores home with children's grades from school. As reported in the New York Times today, it seems schools have time to insist children step on a scale and measure their height, but are unable to offer counseling, food choices, guidance, or programs to counteract the epidemic.

Is this constructive?

It reminds me of people who sit in meetings and gripe about problems at work, but offer no tenable solutions to the problems at hand. While there is value at bringing up these issues to bring them to the conciousness of the workforce, the REAL help is when someone can propose a solution.

As mentioned by Marlene Schwartz, director of research and school programs at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale:
The practice of reporting body mass index scores in schools has gone from pilot program to mass weigh-in despite “no solid research” on either its physical or psychological impact, and “no controlled randomized trial,” said Ms. Schwartz of Yale. “Entire states are adopting a policy that has not been tested.
And to suggest that the problem is only with the children is just as flawed. Many, many of the obese children I see in my practice have parents who would set new records on the BMI score.

The childhood obesity epidemic begins at home, not at school. While notifying those who are overweight might be a seemingly noble goal, until the deleterious effects of such notification to those who are of normal weight or underweight are evaluated, such untested mass notifications that carry no real solution to the problem are merely window dressing to the real problems that have yet to be addressed by state legislatures and school boards.

-Wes

1 comment:

Armond said...

I'm afraid we will be waiting a long time before politicians and school boards attempt to tackle this problem. Just look at the uproar over smoking and trans fat bans. Makes for unhappy voters.
People are even more sensitive about their unalienable right to be over weight.
Just look at the public reaction over Donald Trump's remarks about Rosie O'Donald's weight. Must have cost him a few million viewers.
And the beat goes on.....