Obesity has always been a cause for ridicule and teasing in schools, especially from thinner framed children that are closed minded about larger bodied humans. Much of this is due to how society views overweight people in general, and how a child has been taught to deal with an obese person.
Statistics show that obesity in children has become a serious issue over the last decade, and that we casually blame the fast food industry for literally shoving the stuff down our children’s throats with clever ads that entice them to eat this feel good, happy food. In reality, the blame should start with the parents and how they have taught their children to view food, eating, and bad habits that promote obesity. Many parents have a habit of handling their child as if they were a human garbage disposal by overloading their plates, and teaching the child that wasting food is almost a crime.
The fact is that the majority of parents are not monitoring their child’s food intake, and they are allowing them to fill up on junk food in front of the television or while playing on the computer. Electronic toys and busy lifestyles have caused a serious decline in children making outdoor trips by foot or engaging in other outdoor sports and activities that would involve physical exertion.
Pennsylvania schools have jumped on the bandwagon in an effort to alert parents that their child may be at risk for health problems related to a high BMI. Most of these parents are outraged by the way the schools are handling the epidemic of obesity. A recently adopted tactic of sending home “fat kid report cards” with the child’s regular report card on children in kindergarten through eighth grade is meant to aid in the war against childhood obesity, but parents are angered by this, and most of them disregarded the warning by tossing the BMI report into the trash.
Many of the younger children feared eating because they didn’t understand the results of the BMI, and assumed that the school was referring to them as a “fat kid”. Many school districts have started offering fresh, low-fat cafeteria foods and expanded physical education programs. Inspired by impressive results in a few well-financed programs, states including Delaware, South Carolina and Tennessee have jumped on the B.M.I. bandwagon, turning the obesity report cards into a new rite of childhood.
Health officials in support of the BMI report fear that this type of labeling could have an end result of low self esteem issues, followed by eating disorders and social stigma as misinterpretation of numbers that experts say are confusing could cause children to develop other health, and mental problems by giving them a sense of helplessness about high scores that they do not completely understand. Many parents claim that the reports are inaccurate, and that the schools are not providing the information on how the BMI works or how they should be using it.
Educators, along with health officials feel that parents should be more perceptive about obesity issues, ending the need for schools to intervene with the BMI screening and report, and Dr. Ludwig of the children’s hospital in Boston cited that “There are so many overweight children that perceptions are getting distorted about what’s normal and healthy, and that the current generation of children might have a shorter life expectancy than their parents due to out of control obesity issues.