According to the Huffington Post on Thursday, in North Andover, Mass., parents - whose children were determined obese by the state’s body mass index (BMI) calculations – received letters in the U.S. mail which alerted them that their child is classified as obese.
If the state's calculations’ indicator of body fat in relation to a child’s height and weight put him or her in the obese category, the “fat letter” – as they are now being referred to by some - was sent. The letters allegedly suggested that parents take their child to a pediatrician to follow up on the findings on their child.
At least one parent reportedly told the NBC news affiliate in Boston that the system is flawed because it doesn’t take a child’s muscle mass into account when labeling a child as obese. Furthermore, the letter has been said to obviously make students feel bad.
In addition to the “fat letters,” parents of underweight children as well as of healthy-weight children also received a letter.
A spokesperson from the Massachusetts’ Department of Public Health defended the BMI screenings of the children by claiming that it is all a part of fighting child obesity. Additionally, the state’s Department of Public Health says children can be opted out of the screenings at a parent’s written request. They also say that the screening results are strictly confidential.
The state’s latest BMI report claims that approximately one-third of Massachusetts’ youngsters in school are overweight or obese.
At least one parent has sought to have Massachusetts’ Representative Jim Lyons present the state legislature with a proposal that would stop the state’s Department of Public Health from gathering data on a student’s height, weight, and body mass index.