Really? Schools in North Andover, Mass, have launched a new initiative aimed at helping students struggling with obesity: sending “fat letters” home to their parents. Problem is, some of the letter have been misdirected. Take Cameron Watson: At 10 years old, the tiny athlete hardly appears obese on camera during a recent TODAY show segment. And yet, despite being shown wrestling, demolishing a punching bag and trying his hand at a couple pull-ups, Watson was one of the many children who received a letter indicating his, um, portliness. So what gives?
At four-foot-seven and 95 pounds, Watson’s Body Mass Index told the school that he was overweight. Technically. But what educators failed to realize is that BMI doesn’t take into account muscle mass (muscle weighs more than fat, as we all know), so they made an erroneous accusation, underscoring another kink in BMI. And while I understand that the Department of Public Health was simply hoping these letters would be a “helpful tool” for parents, isn’t this sort of thing better suited for a face-to-face conversation with say, oh, the kids’ doctors rather than a faceless government institution? Not only would such conversations be more helpful (questions can be answered, action plans created), it’s also more appropriate—not to mention less alarmist, what with all the false positives apparently slipping through the cracks.
What do you think? Is this bureaucratic papering a helpful tactic in curbing childhood obesity or not? Sound off in the comments.