Children with BMI measurements outside of the normal range are being sent home with notes saying they are overweight. According to a Sept. 3 ABC News report, many parents and professionals want to see these “fat letters” banned.
Schools in 19 states weigh children and then calculate their BMI. Those with scores higher or lower than what is listed on the healthy weight chart are sent home a note informing parents that their child is overweight or underweight. These letters often instruct parents to take their child to a doctor for evaluation and then return the letter signed by the physician.
Failure to do so results in a second letter being sent home.
Claire Mysko, a representative of the National Eating Disorders Association, says these letters are potentially dangerous to children’s mental health. Over 40 percent of girls have been on a diet by the time they are 10-years-old. “Fat letters” may lead to children being bullied by their peers, low self-esteem, poor body image and eating disorders.
Mysko would like to see BMI testing in schools banned. Parents know when their children are overweight and the effectiveness of BMI testing is under question anyway. She is especially concerned about the impact these letters could have on girls who are already self-conscious of their changing bodies.