Now What Do You Think About BMI Reports?

BMI stands for Body Mass Index and it is usually used to determine whether a person is underweight, overweight, or a healthy weight. Childhood obesity can have harmful effects, so finding different strategies to demolish it is critical.  BMI Report Cards: More Harm Than Good? by Dayle Hayes explains how BMI report cards is an ineffective way to combat childhood obesity. This article was very informative and well written. Hayes wasn’t argumentative, but she thoroughly explained her opinion. It would benefit school officials and parents if they read this article.

BMI Report Cards: More Harm Than Good? is about how destructive BMI report cards are. Hayes believes that we should create strategies that could encourage smart nutrition and enjoyable physical activity for children of all shapes, sizes, and weights in our schools. BMI reports fail to protect the privacy and self-esteem of young children. Studies by Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity have documented that weight humiliation and weight-related bullying are problems that start as young as preschool. Experts are concerned that BMI reports and obesity programs in schools may be increasing frequencies of dieting, body image dysphoria and eating disorders among adolescents. Hayes suggests that parents join their local school wellness or health advisory committee. She believes that focusing less on BMI reports and putting more assets toward school gardens, cooking classes and before/after-school walking programs for all students would be the most effective.

Hayes starts the article strongly by immediately stating her position. She used a reference from a 2012 review in Pediatric Obesity to support her opinion. She refers to the BMI report cards as “fat letters”, making them seem unappealing, unpleasant, and unkind. Her choice of words, such as: “…all sizes, shapes and weights…” (Hayes 2), presents that her outlook includes everyone. This allows parents of children who aren’t obese or overweight, to also be considerate of their children’s health.

Hayes makes a sudden and confusing transition into statements about the United States beating the battle of childhood obesity. She goes on by citing quotes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a federal agency that supports health promotion. The quotes from the CDC state that the declines of childhood obesity are making small, but significant progress. She claims that data from school districts agree with the CDC’s statements. This makes the information about the decrease in childhood obesity more convincing and acceptable to the readers.

Hayes then explains her sudden transition by saying, “None of the reports have suggested that BMI (body mass index) measurements in schools or parental letters had anything to do with the reversals.” (Hayes 3) She quotes another dependable source (2011 analysis of parental notifications in California, in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine) that agrees that “…BMI screening itself could have benefits, parental notification in its current form may not reduce pediatric obesity. Until effective methods of notification are identified, schools should consider directing resources to policies and programs proven to improve student health.” (Hayes 4) This quote agrees with her original opinion that BMI reports are ineffective and unproductive. It makes the reader feel more assured to agree with Hayes because she uses credible sources that agree with her.

She then mentions that she is a school nutrition expert and explains her experiences with limited school health resources. This makes the reader believe that her opinion as being a nutrition expert is a professional one and can be trusted. She explains that it can be easy to make a mistake when calculating a child’s BMI. Hayes goes to explain that labeling a child with their BMI can destroy their self-esteem and encourage weight-related bullying that begin as early as pre-school. She claims that experts have concluded that BMI reports have created body dysphoria and eating disorders in young children. Hayes reports that studies were shown that obesity prevention programs in schools caused troublesome nutrition and physical activity behaviors. She ends the article by giving advice to parents and school officials. She lists three websites to programs that could benefit children’s optimal health and academic performance.

As a child who grew up constantly criticizing their body, I can relate to the children who are self-conscience and bullied about their weight or the way they look. I was in the third grade when a girl looked at my legs and said “Ew. Hairy!” For the next three years, I started wearing long pants to school. I never wore shorts or a skirt to school so that no one else could see how “gross” my legs were. When I was in the fifth grade, I had an assignment that included writing down my weight. Every girl was putting 70-85 pounds. I was reaching 100 pounds, but I didn’t want to be seen as “fat”, so I put down 85 pounds too. This shows how easily children become self-conscience about their weight. I agree with Hayes that a child’s weight should be confidential and should only be discussed with the parents and doctors.

In the sixth grade, I was wearing a short sleeve shirt when a boy laughed and said, “Look how big her arms are!” This comment has made me self-conscience about the size of my arms till this day. For the entire year of sixth grade, I wore sweaters that would cover my arms so that no one else can criticize my gigantic arms. Growing up, I continued to think that my arms were too big for the rest of my body. Even though I was never overweight or obese, as a child, I did receive censure about my body. Hayes makes an appropriate point when she says “[BMI reports] also takes sensitivity to protect the privacy and self-esteem of young children. This is absolutely essential because studies, including several by the Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, have documented that weight stigma and weight-related bullying are significant problems starting as young as preschool.” (Hayes 5)

This article creates awareness to how unsuccessful BMI reports are for childhood obesity. Hayes believes that a more effective way would be to create tactics that could support healthy nutrition and fun physical activity for children of all shapes, sizes, and weights in our schools. She also claims that BMI reports can do a number on a child’s self-esteem. Hayes uses a lot of reliable outside resources with data to support her opinion so that the audience can agree with her. From my experience as a child, I can agree that a child’s health should be private and only be discussed between the parents and doctors.

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