It is possible that in the next few years, we could see students getting graded not just for reading, writing and mathematics, but also for their weight.
Over the past 30 years, rates of high Body Mass Index (BMI) have tripled. Close to one in three American children are now overweight or obese. Really, it is shameful.
The health effects of childhood obesity and high BMI are no secret. Extra weight can lead to heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, asthma and sleep apnea, among other serious health problems into adulthood. Of course, the US is not the only country dealing with these issues. Malaysia has just passed a countrywide policy to include a BMI score at school alongside the typical academic marks and many schools in the US are headed in that direction, too as they implement policies and procedures for dealing with obesity.
We should do the same here.
Parents worry that putting the BMI on report cards will humiliate their children and that the schools are welcome to teach healthy habits, but monitoring weight is not their role. Unfortunately, those parents are wrong.
The fact is, if your kid is obese, someone is doing something wrong. Or there is a health problem. Either way, it is the job of the entire community -- schools included -- to stop it and to teach children that it is wrong. Not in a "wow you are disgusting" way, but in a "wow, you need to be making healthier choices" way.
Obesity is not some happy little freedom we all have the right to choose. It is an epidemic that puts a strain on all of our resources -- from the health-care system to the insurance companies and beyond. Children should not be that overweight. Ever. And if they are, someone needs to stop it.
Parents are often in denial about their child's weight problem or they have weight problems themselves and don't consider it a problem. But it is. The fact is, if parents are not fixing them problems, then the schools should at least try.
Would you support putting the BMI on report cards?
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