Back in April, the Public Health Counsel in Massachusetts unanimously voted to begin BMI screenings for students to determine if students are overweight. The screenings were set to begin this fall.
During the next two years, screenings will be phased in, with over 286,000 students expected to undergo evaluation by the end of the 2010-2011 school year.
My feelings on this? Well, I'm torn. On one hand, childhood obesity is a growing epidemic. I applaud Massachusetts for taking a proactive approach and taking the first step in helping to curb this issue. They are following in the footsteps of New York and Arkansas, who have been screening students for years.
On the other hand, I'm concerned about the privacy and confidentiality of the screenings, and the possible effects it could have on a student's self-esteem. Where will the testings take place? In the classroom? In the school nurse's office? We all know how cruel children can be, especially when it comes to weight and other physical appearance. Being overweight is hard enough for most children - having the results of an often times inaccurate test be made known to a school full of kids (accidentally or on purpose) can be a devastating blow to a child's confidence.
Perhaps a better approach would be to require a BMI screening from a pediatrician before the start of the school year. The test can be done in the privacy of a doctor's office, and the child can receive immediate directions and health advice in the event he is found to be overweight.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for the state taking responsibility for the health and wellness of children - my main issue is the psychological effects this could have on children in the event their results are made known to fellow classmates.
How do you feel about this? Would you want your child to have a BMI test at school, or would you rather have it done at your pediatrician's office on your own time? Or, do you think the school has no right to impose this new ruling?