NYC Sending Home Fat-Shaming ‘Fitnessgrams’ With Children

NYC FitnessgramsOn 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 I think all parents want their kids to be happy and healthy, and even kids who fall outside of the “healthy” outdated, ridiculous BMI range can be perfectly healthy.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.

(Image: twitter)

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    • 4under4

      The BIN index was developed as a tool to gauge the weight of populations not individuals. It was never intended to be used against an single person. The fact that anyone still uses it this way is baffling considering the many different types of bodies. For a school to use it in this manner is especially abhorrent.

      • 4under4

        Sorry my incorrect has a serious problem with the abbreviation for body mass index. As it should :)

      • 4under4

        Ahhh! Auto_correct I am going to go have more coffee now, I am obviously still sleeping

      • Effervescent Pheasant

        :) It’s ok, I’m subjected to the dang auto correct too this morning, must have changed mine 3 times! Get that coffee! mmmmmm

      • Kelly

        I’m currently in a size two and I’m overweight according to BMI. I have been overweight according to BMI since childhood and no sane human being would have ever called me fat. The only time BMI said I was good to go was when I was dying of anorexia.
        It’s repulsive for the school to use it to label children fat.

      • keelhaulrose

        I had a friend on the swim team in college who was ‘overweight’ according to BMI. There was hardly an ounce of fat on that man, and trust me, I was looking.

      • Kelly

        LOL, I was a swimmer too. I think it’s pretty common for us due to all the muscle and low body fat. My husband was also a swimmer and he’s “fat” too.

      • Effervescent Pheasant

        Exactly, I know a couple girls who were fat according to BMI. They were gymnasts, I have never seen such lean machines. They had a lot of muscle mass, but some of them were about 4’11 or just at 5 feet tall. The index is so far off for shorter and very tall people, especially athletes. Their weight was from muscle, not fat.

      • Spongeworthy

        I was always “overweight” at my checkups as a kid according to those charts. I’m short but really muscular. I was involved in sports for years, right through college. So yea, no real concerns about my health. Luckily my pediatrician wasn’t an idiot and always said we’ll according to the growth charts you’re a little over, but it’s obvious you’re fine. Don’t worry about it. I’m sure if I had a doc that made a big deal over it I would’ve been pretty upset.

      • brebay

        I stopped working out a year ago and went from “normal” to “underweight” at 18.3 BMI. I went up a pants size and lost all my muscle. BMI is intended for large group analysis, not individuals.

      • SunnyD847

        They did this at my kids’ schools, too. I don’t understand why this is happening since everyone knows BMI doesn’t take muscle mass into account. It’s especially stupid for kids since they tend to put on weight before growth spurts. Why tell a kid they’re fat when they’re about to grow 4 inches?

      • Harriet Meadow

        Yep, I’m obese according to BMI, BARELY overweight according to body fat.

      • Vikky

        “everyone knows BMI doesn’t take muscle mass into account”
        Except, unless you are a professional athelete, an amateur athelete that competes on a pro-am level, or a serious athelete in a sport like bodybuilding or weight lifting that dramatically affects your muscles– BMIs really ARE accurate.

        We need to all stop lying to ourselves. BMIs are accurate 99% of the time. Why do we assume we are the 1%?
        This is not about looks. I don’t care how you look–I can’t see you over the internet.
        But being unhealthy lowers our life expetancy. We all need to try to be healthier–this is Mommyish, so most of us here have children who would like us to live as long as we can.

      • Spongeworthy

        “BMIs are accurate 99% of the time”
        Citation needed.

      • Spiderpigmom

        98.4% of statistics are made up on the spot.

      • Spongeworthy

        72% of people reading this post believe it!

      • Kendra

        Yeah….NO. BMIs are not right 99% of the time. But thanks for playing.

      • CMJ

        Having a “healthy” BMI also doesn’t make you automatically healthy.

      • brebay

        I see my niece about once a year. Every other year she’s short and stocky, the other years, she’s tall and thin. Kids grow in funky patterns, which is why the BMI is not applicable to anyone who isn’t done growing.

    • Kelly

      So the mom wants the school to tell kids they’re fat, just not her kid. That’s pretty bitchy. She saw how it affected her daughter. Why would she want that done to other children?

    • Effervescent Pheasant

      I don’t understand why the child was given the letter, or even sent home with her? Of course she’d know what it was. Kids talk about “fat” from first grade.
      Why wasn’t the letter send in the mail to the parents if there was concern?
      Honestly, I don’t think the school has a place to tell a child this. We would hope that every year a child is taken in for a well visit to their Dr. who would then tell the parent that their child’s weight is out of a specific range and if it’s a concern or not.
      What I don’t understand is WHY the schools enacted this in the first place. Is the BMI even right for children as individuals? Who designed the standards? Are they current?
      Yes, everyone is on the whole “obese America” thing. They want us to all eat better, but banning soda and fat shaming isn’t helping.
      Proper food education may help, but a child sees what is done at home too. How their parents eat, what they eat… it’s not just an evil school vending machine luring your children to a forbidden snickers bar making them fat. It’s a whole slew of things. Depression even plays a part in some adult over eating.
      So where does this end? Where is the fine line in helping Americans get healthy? Having a nanny state where we are watched from the time we get up to when we go to bed? Limiting everyone’s food intake eventually with some type of monitors? CPS getting involved when a child is overweight?
      I think it starts with parenting in the home. But how does the importance of that get spread to areas where this isn’t a concern to some parents? Such a sticky subject.

      • Lori B.

        Exactly! I don’t think I would be comfortable getting this kind of memo about my daughter, but I really do think about what she eats and how much physical activity she has. Don’t get me wrong, she eats unhealthy things and spends some afternoons watching TV, but I am thoughtful about it and try to make sure the “healthy” outweighs the “unhealthy.” (No pun intended) I would personally feel like my parenting was being questioned. That being said, I am not the foremost authority on nutrition and there are plenty of parents who know even less than me about nutrition who maybe could use a little education and support. I do see this as a role of the school district. When I was in elementary school, twice per year the school nurse would look at our teeth and if it didn’t look good, she would send us home with a blue card telling us to go to the dentist. It was mortifying. I wish it was done more discreetly, and it should have been, but my parents needed that sort of thing to ensure that I had proper dental hygiene. I actually agree with the mom in the story that if the school was going to alert parents to possible health issues, it should have been done by mail or in some discreet way. I also think that it is a good use of money on the part of the DOE because not every parent takes their child to the pediatrician regularly or is even aware of the health issues facing their child. It is slippery slope,I don’t want to be told what to do, but I think it’s a small price to pay to help educate other parent in areas that are not familiar to them.

      • Vikky

        At my kids’ school, EVERYONE gets a letter.
        And they list the average BMI for their gender/age/height, and how many pullups/situps/how fast they schould run.
        So you know how your child is doing.
        AND if your kid not where they need to be to be healthy, they list suggestions for helping them improve.

        I think the author took this personally, when the school is most llikely sending out PE progress reports to everyone.

      • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

        Just want to say…why it isn’t sent in the mail. I teach in a school with about 1000 students. EVERY letter they want to send home costs us around $500. This article is about the whole NYC district. I can google how many students they have, but I can guarantee it’s a damn ton. We send very few letters home now because, frankly, the school can’t afford it. They probably could have emailed, but not all parents list or check theirs.

      • Blueathena623

        Thank you! I wonder if people think mail is free for schools?

    • keelhaulrose

      As the fat kid, I knew I was the fat kid. Trust me, we’re not Cartman, we know we’re fat. Our parents, too. If it’s getting to be a true concern the nurse or our doctor needs to approach the family to make a plan.

      • Spongeworthy

        Exactly! Fat people aren’t stupid. Most of them know they’re fat. I don’t get the mindset that they need to be “made aware” of their condition. Especially through shaming. How is that helpful?

      • Andrea

        I think we’d be surprised about people do and do not “know”. I sometimes see families where all 4 or 5 of them are fairly obese and I wonder.
        I think it is so so sad. I’m not sure how to “fix” it and I am pretty certain a piece of paper from the school telling you your kid is fat will immediately drive you into the offensive, but still……

      • Kelly

        You really think they don’t know that they need to go to special stores to buy their clothes? You think they don’t know that they fit in airplane seats? Seriously?

        Do you see families where they’re all hispanic and wonder if they know that too?

        Maybe you should just accept that it’s not your place to “fix” other people. If you wouldn’t want someone waltzing into your life and deciding what’s wrong with you and telling you to fix it, maybe don’t try to do it to someone else.

      • Andrea

        I don’t know what hispanic families have to do with anything we are discussing here.
        I guess you are right about one thing and this is not “my” place (although I never said it was) to fix anything and perhaps it is best to leave those matters between them and their doctor.

      • brebay

        She’s just pointing out that some thing run in families, like ethnicity and body composition.

      • Spiderpigmom

        Not only that, but in the fat-hating and fat-obsessed society we live in, even people who are only overweight or moderately obese (and thus fit in airplane seats and can buy clothes from mainstream stores) have been bombarded early on about the fact that the are nasty fat fat fatty mac fatsters. They don’t need the heads-up.

      • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

        amen

      • Spongeworthy

        Well, considering how cruel people can be to those they deem “overweight”, I have no doubt that most don’t know. And you can’t tell anything about a persons health just by looking. How do you know that that “obese” family you see isn’t working to lose weight together? How do you know what they eat and what their exercise level is? You don’t. Do you feel sad when you see a thin person stuffing their face with junk food?
        I don’t want to seem like I’m attacking you, that’s not my intention, but you can’t determine a person’s health by looking at them.

      • Andrea

        You are right, I don’t.
        I suppose it IS best to leave such matters between them and their doctor.

      • Spongeworthy

        Yea, I hope it didn’t seem like I was jumping down your throat. I get a little worked up sometimes! My cousin, who I love dearly, has always been overweight and I’ve seen how nasty complete strangers have been to her.

      • keelhaulrose

        The thing is we knew. 4 out of my 5 family members were overweight. We knew, and we tried to make lifestyle changes, but it’s hard. Mom and dad both worked 70 hour plus weeks, we were involved in after school activities. Us children were all on sports teams, and our doctor thought that was enough for the time being. It should only be between the family and their doctor.

      • Andrea

        I said that below after re-thinking it.

      • Spiderpigmom

        This. It boggles my mind how many people firmly believe that fat people need to be informed that they are fat. As if!

      • Momma425

        Thank you!
        If the patient’s doctor isn’t concerned (and a lot of the times, doctors will choose to wait until the child has done some growing- even a thin child can fall outside BMI ranges while going through a growth spurt), why is everyone else?

      • JJ

        I agree 100%. As a fat adult trying to get healthy I am well aware I am fat and I have been fat in the past too. And kids are pretty self aware and self concious to so they also know there fat. People who are not the family doctor or a concerned parent to the child need to mind their business and leave fat people adults or kids alone. I always just want to look people in the face when they try to suggest that I or someone else similar to me is fat and go, “Oh my god what! You mean I don’t look like Angelina Jolie and I’m not a size 4 or smaller. All the lies I have lived with so far. Why have you all been lying to me? Are you telling me these size 14+ jeans I just put on aren’t actually a 4 with an extra 1 in front of it. Is that not a typo”. In a really dramatic fashion of course LOL

    • LK

      I CANNOT understand why schools continue to do this. If there is a child for whom this is such a serious issue, a school has concerns for their health and well-being, a nurse should be involved and contacting a parent DIRECTLY. There is no excuse for making these determinations on a mass scale, let alone sending the information home with kids. Jesus.

      • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

        They did contact them directly. The kids weren’t supposed to open the envelope…… probably should have paid for those stamps.

    • http://misuser.blogspot.com Alex Lee

      Paper communication in this day and age? We can send confidential financial information through email but not school notices intended only for parents?

      Throw this in the same pile with “here’s another letter on fluorescent-red paper that says your lunch account is bankrupt – no more meals for you, freeloader”

      No one has the right to fat-shame me except my Nintendo Wii.

      Seriously, my Mii avatar is chunky.
      *sobbing*

      • Tinyfaeri

        Oh screw the Mii avatars. And the damn balance board cartoon fucker. Mean, condescending little bastard.

      • itpainsme2say

        I thought I was the only one who got a little depressed when the waist expanded on the avatar when I made it

    • Renee J

      According to the NYPost article, they are determining if they are overweight by how the kid compares to other kids. She has a BMI of 19, which puts her above the 88th percentile. This doesn’t seem very accurate.

    • Life-Sized Mommy

      Anything BMI-related (especially w/ kids) makes me want to rage.

      My older son is tall, lean, and muscular. He has almost no body fat, but he weighs a *ton*. (People who don’t know better will try to pick him up, and then they almost throw their backs out.)

      Because of his high muscle mass and density he’s classified as obese by BMI. Even though he has almost zero body fat. It’s ridiculous.

      Fortunately his pediatrician is awesome and pays no attention to BMI. But, seriously, under this school’s definition, my kid (who is built like an Olympic swimmer, but at four) would be getting a “fitnessgram” sent home.

      So, so stupid.

      • Blueathena623

        All the kids got fitnessgrama

    • That_Darn_Kat

      I HATE HATE HATE the whole BMI thing. The only time I’ve ever fallen into the “normal” range for that damn thing was when I was anorexic. I’m 5’4 and my body type is sooo not a reed. I have broad shoulders, hips, and I definitely have thighs. When I was in high school, I was jogging 5 days a week and eating really healthy and my weight sat at 140. Even then, I was considered “overweight” on the BMI scale. The only way to get me to fall in that normal range is literally for me to starve myself while doing lots of excercise…and I look anorexic if I start getting near 130.

    • Natalie

      I agree and disagree. On one hand, BMI is actually accurate for children at all, should be used as sort of a ‘ball park’ thing more than a diagnostic tool, and doesn’t always indicate health status. These are known facts. So putting the BMI is silly.
      However, my mom is a school nurse and is required by the state to issue these types of things as well. She does physicals on all the kids every two years (she works at a middle school and high school) and it’s part of their state funding linked to their cafeteria food on how the kids progress. She hates sending this stuff home because parents call and bitch at her constantly about it. However, for some kids, especially the high schoolers, she is actually glad when she can send this stuff home and a parent calls mad. Because she’s had SEVERAL teenagers who can’t fit on her scale. Her standard doctors scale. They weigh 400 to 500+ lbs. So when the parent calls mad that the ‘morbidly obese’ comes up, she can talk to them about health choices and what the kids are eating, Is it her place? I don’t know. But the state made it her place. The kids do too when they come to her complaining of health issues that are often food related or weight related.
      But the general slightly husky 7 year old, she HATES doing it. Because she knows that kid is actually probably pretty healthy and will be fine. But the 300 lb 7 year old? Ya, she wants to talk to the parents to discuss healthier eating when they call enraged. It usually doesn’t help, but she feels complied to do it. And yes, that has happened.

      But it’s the same idea, the kids are supposed to see it and she hates when it makes them upset. She has a hard time dealing with that and no one is offering solutions.

      • Natalie

        Sorry, aren’t supposed to see it

      • Natalie

        Jeeze typos. I don’t know how to edit it now… the BMI ISN’T accurate for kids or anyone under 17.

    • Vikky

      My kids get these, and I LIKE THIS.
      Seriously, these have their BMI, and how well they score on fitness test: how fast they run, how many pullups they can do, etc. And it also lists what a child their age should be able to do, and how to improve over the summer if they fall short of the fitness goals.

      These are fabulous! I’m so grateful that they send this information home every May.

      Don’t we want to know if our kids are average or less than average in health? Don’t we want to know if they need to improve?
      PE is like any other class–except you get an A for trying, so there’s no way for a parent to judge if their child can’t keep up. And if your child can’t keep up, this could affect their health for the rest of their life!

      • Spongeworthy

        The tough thing about PE is that if you’re a kid who “can’t keep up”, it’s easy to get discouraged and write off physical activity at a young age. It would be great if schools had the resources to offer different types of activity and find something they like. Not every kid will be good at kickball, but maybe they like to swim. Or do yoga.
        I love physical activity. Always have. And I’ve always been pretty athletic. But you can’t tell what a kids ability level is just by looking at them. When I coached college kids, their body shapes and sizes were all over the place. There were a few you could look at and think they were “unhealthy”. And those kids could play a full game with no subs and be just as strong at the end as the beginning. But they couldn’t run an 7 minute mile if you put a gun to their head.

      • CMJ

        Yeah. If you were measuring my physically abilities by how fast I can run and how many pull-ups I can do I’d be SCREWED

      • Spongeworthy

        Yea. I really believe everyone can find some type of physical activity they like. But if you hear at an early age that you aren’t good at something, some kids will think “why bother?” It’s the same as reading or math or science. And I know that schools are super underfunded and can’t make 10 different PE classes. I get that they need some type of measuring stick. I just hate the thought of a kid put off on exercise because they can’t do a pull up or touch their toes.

      • http://nessyhart.wordpress.com/ pixie

        Yep, I was the small, skinny kid who could eat a ton and not gain weight. I was active, too, but hated running with a fiery passion. In grade 7 I was doing martial arts 5 times a week, swimming, diving, biking/walking/rollerblading nearly everywhere, and going on frequent hikes. My gym teacher gave me a poor mark in PE and made a comment saying I needed to be more active in everyday life because I did poorly in the running portion of the fitness testing, wasn’t that great at track and field, soccer, or basketball, and sucked at dance. I felt horrible, bringing that report card home because I thought my parents would be upset. Thankfully, they just laughed and said the teacher was out of his mind, since I was non-stop active, just not a runner or good at more traditional sports.

      • Spongeworthy

        Glad your parents realized it was BS. Organized/team sports aren’t for everyone, but that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to a life of inactivity

      • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

        Just, in fairness to P.E. here… nowdays they expose students to a TON of different activities. (Not swimming, though, because we don’t have a pool.) I have one student who’s very overweight and hated p.e… On the days they had to run, coach ran every step right by his side. I have seen p.e. do rollerblading units, track units, some kind of insanely weird volleyball game, crazy matball (kickball-like), all manner of silly games, and they invite the rest of the teachers to compete with the kids every quarter. They try to make it as fun as humanly possible to exercise.

      • Spongeworthy

        See, I think that’s great. It seems like it varies a lot from place to place.

      • Justme

        I LOVE matball!!!!! And that weird volleyball game? Was it called Nuke ‘Em? Are you in my school?!?!? Now that I’m back in the classroom I totally miss playing all the goofy games with the kids – and getting out and about during the school day in the springtime when it’s all gorgeous and sunny. But I don’t miss the sock tan. ;)

      • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

        It has a word like Nuke in the title but not….can’t remember exactly… I could see that it’s probably the same game though, just goes by different names in diff. regions. I love their silly games!

      • Justme

        It is literally the stupidest, simplest game and they absolutely can’t get enough of it.

      • JenH1986

        I would guess by watching your kid you would know if they aren’t keeping up with their friends when running/bike riding etc. that would be a good indicator. Also I would assume as a parent you would notice if they were heavy, or eating crap foods or wheezing after running. My parents never worried about my “full figured” body because I could ride bikes all day and play soccer, softball and basketball and still be ready to do something after the game, we didn’t have PE after 7th grade and only in 6th/7th was it a daily thing, before that it was a once a week thing. And if the school needs to discuss issues with the parent they should (and local schools do). The kid doesn’t need to read that they “overweight” or “obese” or whatever terms they put in that paper.

      • Tinyfaeri

        I dunno, I know what my kid can do because I spend time with her and a good chunk of that is active. She’s only 2, so for now we take walks, we run around the yard and dance around the house, and when she gets older we’ll do more things like climbing, hiking, biking, maybe even a race or obstacle course together. How a kid does in PE doesn’t necessarily reflect their health. I’m less worried about my kid “keeping up” with other children and more about whether she’s healthy.

      • brebay

        For true! How do you not know if your kid can run around the block without getting dizzy?

      • Rachel Sea

        NOPE. BMi doesn’t tell you anything except how many standard deviations from the mean you child places on the bell curve. Because you are not raising a statistic, it doesn’t tell you shit, but it will make plenty of parents think their kid is over or under weight when they aren’t, because they don’t have a precisely average child.

      • Justme

        PE isn’t about “keeping up.” PE is about teaching children healthy habits and how to enjoy being active – not strictly about competition.

    • jane

      Woah, woah, let’s dial back the outrage and recognize that NYC is trying to tackle what will likely be the greatest health issue of our day: obesity. Is this solution perfect? Of course not. But this is a “report card,” not a crystal ball. It’s measuring where the kids are NOW. (Although I absolutely agree that BMI is not the way to do it – there needs to be a better measure). It’s not “shaming” a kid to send home a “D” on the “writing” section of the report card – it’s indicating to the parent that the kid still needs work in this area, not that they’ll always be an abject failure at writing.

      Do “fat kids” know they’re fat? Probably. But do the parents know what to do about it? Maybe not. About 20% of people in NYC are uninsured – how often do you think they get to the pediatrician? More than 30% of New Yorkers are overweight, more than 20% obese. (And these numbers are skewed disproportionally to the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum – 1/4 of Head Start preschoolers are overweight).

      Schools fail our kids when they only focus on what’s “above the neck.” Human beings have bodies, and people need to learn how to care for them properly. Do I think that sending home a single report card is going to do it? No. But as part of a comprehensive program that teaches kids about healthy choices and exercise, getting parents on board is really key.

      No one should feel shamed in school/by school – ever. However, we need to get our mind around the fact that being overweight isn’t something to be ashamed of. Just like anything else we need to learn, there’s a range of how easily things come to people, and there’s a wide range of “normal.”

      • Spongeworthy

        See, I can get behind a comprehensive program that teaches kids about a healthy lifestyle. But that’s necessary for ALL kids, not just the “fat” ones. We all knew those kids who could eat nothing but garbage and still stay thin. I guess my question about this is if the school is doing anything else like health education, or just sending home a note saying “your kid is fat.”

      • JD

        It is an annual comprehensive assessment that all students bring home. I just registered my oldest for kindergarten in the NYC school system and was told all about it. It includes an individual student’s aerobic and strength, endurance and flexibility assessment, BMI and suggestions for incorporating more healthy habits into day to day life.

        Just Google nyc fitnessgram if you are curious.

      • Spongeworthy

        Thank you for the additional info! I don’t live in NY and my kid isn’t in school yet, so I don’t have much experience with it. Again, I think that a focus on health in school is a good thing. And I hope that it is comprehensive and takes into account healthy eating and habits. Those are valuable life skills for anyone.

      • Justme

        It’s not just in New York, many states have adopted the Fitness Gram as a tool to use in the PE and athletic classes.

      • jane

        I think that all kids _do_ get one.

        And ideally yes, the school would be doing much much more about health education. But if they can’t do everything, should they do nothing? At least this might get the parents to talk to the pediatrician and say “should I put stock in this BMI thing? Is there anything I should know about the best type of calories to give my kids?”

        If you click on the post link, you can see the “fitnessgram.” It didn’t say “Hey, Fatty McFatterson, quit snarfing down the nuggets and grab some carrots.” It has both BMI and suggestions for diet and exercise. Seems reasonable to me.

      • Guest

        Amen to it being about all the kids. My brothers ate non stop garbage but had insane metabolism so they were never considered fat. Once they got into their 20′s it all caught up and they ballooned up like you wouldn’t believe. Everyone needs to know this information.

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      WOAH WOAH WOAH, Stall the fucking digger!!!

      How on earth is making kids self-conscious about their weight going to help???
      Trust me, as the fat kid in my class, I knew I had to lose weight- I didn’t need a note telling me this!

      The difference is, my parents approached it not as “YOU CHUNKAY, YOU GOTTA LOSE WEIGHT” But more “Well if you like wearing those fishnet tops and corsets, maybe we could work on finding stuff to aim towards” (meaning maybe get one a size smaller and motivate me) which totally worked!!

    • JD

      I don’t really think this is fat-shaming. BMI is not an accurate measure for overall health, but it can tell us something or at least give parents a chance to assess their children’s eating habits and level of activity. A lot of parents are ill-informed or in denial about nutrition and exercise, but as parents we have a responsibility to teach our children how to stay healthy.

      Also, why aren’t we keeping kids accountable for their actions? If the paper was supposed to be opened by the parents and the students were told that, the woman should at least have told her daughter it wasn’t her place to open it, rather than place 100% of the blame on the school.

      Now, real negative behavior/comments aimed at anyone about their bodies is a terrible thing. I have a daughter and am very conscious of how people speak about self-image around her. But we do have a lot of weight-related health issues in the US and we can’t shy away from that fact forever.

    • http://overthecuckoonest.blogspot.com/ Kay_Sue

      It would be so amazeballs if we could take weight out of the equation here and focus on being healthy at any weight. I am all for educating kids on healthy eating. I believe in presenting them with a wide variety of foods. But “fitnessgrams”? That crosses a line.

      You can be healthy at any size. All programs like this do (in my opinion) is create a hostile environment that alienates children–and that is most certainly NOT the way that you encourage healthy habits. When are we going to get it?

      • Spongeworthy

        YES. Put the focus on health, not pants size. A-freaking-men.

      • Blueathena623

        The problem is that we are still iffy on what defines “health.” The old definition was lack of disease, but the newer definition includes a sense of well-being, etc. So, what is the least invasive way to test for “health” that doesn’t involve a round of blood tests?

      • Rachel Sea

        That’s not true. Some people can be 400 lbs and still be healthy, but most people cannot. One of my friends died last summer because his weight overtaxed his heart. He was 34.

      • http://overthecuckoonest.blogspot.com/ Kay_Sue

        You say “that’s not true” while at the same time conceding that “some people can be 400 lbs and still be healthy”. That’s somewhat of a contradiction there.

        If someone is technically overweight, and still living a healthy life, no one has the right to criticize them. Every body is made differently, and some people are just going to carry more weight. The emphasis on weight as an indicator for overall health is out of control and does far more harm than good.

      • Rachel Sea

        “Healthy at Any Size” is just a crap description. It suggests that whatever size you are, you can be healthy, and it isn’t true. For a lot of people, health requires that they lose weight, sometimes a lot of it.

      • http://overthecuckoonest.blogspot.com/ Kay_Sue

        I don’t agree that it’s a crap description. It doesn’t suggest that whatever size you’re at is automatically healthy. What it does suggest is that you can be healthy, regardless of your size. If that means that you are 400 lbs, and you start working with your doctor and whatever resources are available to live a healthier life, and you lose weight in the process. that’s not a bad thing. But I greatly object to the emphasis that we put on weight.

        I’m 105 lbs. Maybe less right now, if I’m being honest. My diet is terrible and I rarely exercise. What I have are exceptionally good genes. So yes, I think it’s entirely accurate to say you can be healthy–or unhealthy, as it were–at any size.

      • Blueathena623

        I don’t think weight will ever be taken out of the consideration because no one wants to think of themselves at fat. Look at all the comments here, comments from people who, I’m assuming, are against fat shaming. If we were REALLY focused on health, the comments would be like this:
        “BMI measurements are a crock of shit in terms of estimating health because I have a high one but all the results of my last physical were great, I can do what I want to do physically, etc.”
        But instead, almost all the comments here are some variation of this:
        “BMI measurements are a crock of shit in terms of estimating health because I have a high one but I don’t look like a fat person.”

      • http://overthecuckoonest.blogspot.com/ Kay_Sue

        Good point. But it’d be great if it were. It just seems like the weight aspect gets fixated on so heavily, when it’s not that great of an indicator of overall health, you know? I used the example in an earlier comment that I am really skinny, but I have a horrible diet. If it ever catches up with me, my blood pressure and sugar will go haywire. But by this measurement, I’d probably receive a pat on the back…and that’s just wrong.

      • hannaugh

        The BMI is also a crock of shit because it was invented by a mathematician (aka not a physician) in the 1800′s, contains all kinds of flaws such as not accounting for the fact that muscle weighs more than fat, and has no basis in medical science in general.

    • RayneofCastamere

      A. The BMI chart is an unscientific crock of shit that doesn’t take bone mass or muscle into account and was invented in the Victorian era to see if heavy people committed more crimes.

      B. Instead of promoting good eating and exercise, the school will instead be promoting body shaming which could lead to UNhealthy habits, the opposite of what they claim to want.

      Fail all around.

    • Blueathena623

      I’m seriously kinda surprised by the response here, makes me wonder if people are reading the story? I remember physical education reports being sent home (with me, actually) in middle school and 9th grade, detailing our heigh, weight, scores on the presidential fitness test (which I always bombed, except for flexibility, yeah) and results of our scoliosis test. Not sure if BMI was included, but this was early to mid 90′s.

    • MellyG

      I was an athletic kid – like zero fat. I was an athletic teen – i danced all the time, competitively. But i also have the kind of figure that comes with hips and boobs, even at age 10 – my BMI was always high, even when i was rail thin.

      If this had been sent home with me at 12 or 13 it would have driven me straight to an eating disorder (that i did have in lat high school and college…..but this would have brought it on earlier)

      i hate the BMI!

    • Blueathena623

      And Its always interesting to see, on articles that discuss BMI, how many people chime in about how their BMI is high, but then list all the reasons why they are NOT fat, no sir, nope, they are not fat. Not that its bad to be fat, but just so we know, they are not fat.
      Yeah, I went there. I’m a fat bitch.

      • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

        I agree! I’m a little fat, and I know it, and the BMI says so–it ain’t lyin.’ Yes, I can still rollerblade, and walk, and jog if I want to (I don’t, much). I know without it I look at myself and go, yeah, I’m fine. I just don’t see it. I’m one of those people who thinks they look pretty good regardless. I could see where if it was my kids, I wouldn’t notice, because I think my weight blindness would extend to them. I kind of need a measurement besides weight; it’s not perfect but it’s not THAT terrible either. There is a lot of BMI attacking going on here……

      • Blueathena623

        My BMI is riding the line between overweight and obese (29.3, just did it). So I’m fat. I like to think to myself that I’m just a little fat, that I carry it well, big frame, etc., but whatever, I’m fat. I’m not unhealthy, according to my yearly physicals, but all things considered I’m sure I would be healthier if I weighed less (up to a point) simply because there would be less of me to maintain, less weight on my joints, etc.

    • Michelle Pittman

      i can’t even…i have two boys — my oldest is rail thin and NEEDS to put on some weight — but i was super skinny when i was his age and i’m sure he’ll eventually gain weight…my youngest son is very athletic and plays sports literally year round…that being said, ever since he was a toddler, he gets pudgy before he grows – nothing we can do about it — the kid is super active — it’s just how his body works — he eats healthy but it’s how i can always tell he’s getting ready to grow…and i thought that was pretty normal — and that little girl is 9 — what a douchenozzle principal…

    • AP

      I don’t get why the NYC Public Schools are even bothering with this. Unless things have changed in the last 20 years or so, all students in NYC were required to submit a “doctor’s note” each year stating that they’d been seen by a physician, including key vitals and immunization record, and a “dental note” saying that they’d been seen by a dentist in the previous year, at the beginning of each school year, mandatory for enrollment.

      If all the kids are required to get a physical exam as a condition of enrollment, there’s no reason for the school to be in the business of playing doctor.

      And personally, I hate BMI. I’ve been the same height and weight for the last 13 years and my BMI is something like 16. I’m tired of doctors body-shaming me. It’s tiresome.

      • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

        Most schools have certain years those things are required, but not every single year.

      • Justme

        In Texas, students are required to produce a physical from a doctor in order to play school-sanctioned sports but not just to enroll as a regular student.

    • Rachel Sea

      FUCK those administrators in the neck with a shovel.

      BMI is a goddamn statistical tool. They might as well tell a 5′ tall 10 year old that they need to get shorter as tell someone they need to lose weight based on their BMI.

      Fuck them.

    • tk88

      Because we always need more fuel for bullying and eating disorders! Seriously, if they felt this so “necessary” could they not have mailed or even e-mailed it to the parents instead?

    • K

      This isn’t fat shaming, this is a fitness update. After fitness testing in gym class we had the same thing sent home when I was in elementary school. A report of your weight/height and BMI is not “fat-shaming” it’s just information. And if it says “unhealthy BMI” then yeah, you should probably know that.

      • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

        YES!!!!! Thanks!

    • Em

      My kids’ pediatrician and I keep well on top of the kids’ BMIs, and my kids know that I will NOT sign consent and that they are to refuse to let the school measure them. They are not data-mining my kids. But if they want to pay my insurance premiums and $10,000.00 deductible in their entirety- then we might sit down and come to terms.

    • Justme

      I taught PE in Texas for four years and it’s part of our curriculum (state mandated) that every student in a Texas school complete the Fitness Gram, which usually included running a timed mile, doing some crunches and push-ups, and some flexibility tests. I hated administering the stupid thing because it was a waste of my time – none of the kids nor the parents took it seriously at all, but I think the bill was passed as a “LOOK! We’re doing something to combat childhood obesity!” I believe the results are distributed to the students and families through the mail or as part of their report card.

      As a teacher, I can only express my opinion, but having given the test I can say this – I never was trying to “shame” a child, nor were my co-workers or administrators. We were just fulfilling another task required by the powers-that-be.

    • brebay

      I can’t believe you need to sign a permission trip for your kid to watch a sex ed video, but they’re allowed to put them on a scale without your consent. What the fuck?