Schools measuring children's BMI: Has it gone too far?

Cassandre wonders whether schools have taken on too much responsibility when it comes to promoting healthy living.

photo: Kali9/iStock

The promotion of a healthy lifestyle has become more of a priority as obesity rates continue to rise around the world. A child is never too young to start learning good habits, and although it should never be on the forefront of a kid’s mind at all times, it would never hurt to be encouraged to make good choices at home and in school. 

Are schools going too far, however, to make sure that their students are physically healthy? The Globe and Mail suggests that it may be the case. In 2003, Arkansas legislation allowed school to start recording a student’s Body Mass Index (BMI) and to include this information on documentation like a report card, and parents were outraged. 

With fewer than seven percent of school-aged children getting the recommended 60 minutes of exercise daily, and with more than one in four children being considered obese, it is definitely important for schools to promote physical education, but should they be doing it all by themselves? John Del Grande, a trustee with the Toronto Catholic District School Board, tells the ?Globe? that “schools are there to teach knowledge… but ultimately the primary educator is the parent.” 

Schools can only do so much in a seven hour day to develop healthy habits where they can, but with the help from parents, there could definitely be an improvement. Do I think putting my BMI on my report card, for all to see, would have helped me become more active as a child? Probably not; it most likely would have been more embarrassing than motivating. But would I have benefited from a more intense gym class every day, instead of a moderately active class every few days? Yes, definitely. 

I think schools should choose their battles when it comes to educating children about a healthy lifestyle and work with parents to promote physical activity and eating right. Offering better choices in the cafeteria and developing more active physical education is sensible and, in my opinion, helpful, but I don’t think subjecting kids to regular weigh-ins will really have the results school boards desire. In this case, I believe it truly takes a village.

Do you think schools should try and focus more on physical activity than they do already? What do you do to try and promote a healthy lifestyle in your family?

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