Measuring Body Fat on Schoolchildren

A Body Mass Index test measures body fat by comparing a child's height to weight. It's supposed to encourage healthier living, but is it a violation of privacy?

Studies show a growing number of children developing adult diseases early on. Now, Leon County schools are teaming with health care professionals to try and turn the tide on this trend. In the coming weeks, parents will get a letter containing their child's Body Mass Index.

Superintendent Bill Montford says, "We're confident it will be accepted by parents as an effort on our part to provide parents with another tool to ensure wellness of child."

Because BMI is such a sensitive subject, privacy was a big concern for parent Shannon Starace, who has two kids in the Leon County school system.

Shannon says, "Privacy was an issue, didn't want kids to make fun and that's why I got involved and found it be very private."

Health professionals say parents play a pivotal role in their child's health.

John Agwunobi, Florida Department of Health Secretary, says, "Not so much that solutions lie in school. School is simply providing opportunity through these screenings to take action at home."

Of the students tested, six out of 10 were at a healthy weight. Two out of 10 had excess weight for their age and gender, putting them at risk.

Leon County is the first in the state to perform BMI screenings for grade schoolers. Parents were given a choice to opt out of the program, but very few did so.


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