On Thursday, the NYC department Of Education sent kids home with a different kind of report card, one that claims that certain kids are obese based on body mass index, including one kid who at 4’1 and 66 pounds was informed her BMI falls outside of a healthy weight range. The report cards, called ‘Fitnessgrams” are only sealed with a small round sticker and aren’t supposed to be read by children, and everyone knows that the most failsafe way of keeping kids from looking at something is to place a small round sticker on it, which is nearly impossible for any kid to open. From the NY Post:
Gwendolyn’s mom, Laura Bruij Williams of Port Richmond, says she found out about her daughter’s Fitnessgram Wednesday night, as she was tucking the girl in for the night.
“She said, ‘Hey, Mom. The school told me I’m overweight.’ And then she started jiggling her thighs, and saying, ‘Is this what they mean?’”
“That was heartbreaking,” said the stay-at-home mom of two.
The next morning, Williams sought out Gwendolyn’s principal at PS 29.
“She was sympathetic, but said the kids weren’t supposed to open it. My response is, they’re kids. How can you believe they’re not going to open it?” Williams said.
The nine-year-old girl mentioned in the story seems to understand that she isn’t overweight, but her mom is quoted as saying:
“It’s a very positive thing for some kids who are overweight, but we shouldn’t be putting these assessments in the children’s hands,”
which is total bullshit, because even overweight kids don’t need to be fat-shamed by a piece of paper sent home from school. It’s ridiculous, especially considering young kids are so susceptible to dieting and disordered eating and the self-esteem issues that come from telling kids they are fat. If a parent is concerned about their kid’s weight, they need to discuss it with their pediatrician and make healthy choices with their family, which mainly includes things like not letting them drink soda and having them play outside. It’s not the school’s place to send home these dumb Fitnessgrams with kids who are bound to open them. I think all parents want their kids to be happy and healthy, and even kids who fall outside of the “healthy”
outdated, ridiculous BMI range can be perfectly healthy. Measuring a kid’s height and weight is not going to give you a clear picture of how healthy they are, and if a parent has a kid who has weight issues I’m pretty sure they’re aware of this anyway.
All these little brochures have done is cause a whole let of stress for kids and their parents who now have to worry about the damage these Fitnessgrams have done to their kids. I’m sure there have been a whole lot of conversations assuring kids that they are just fine, and for those kids who may have a weight problem trying to repair the damage to their self-esteem. Sounds like a nice waste of DOE resources to me.