Could Your Child's Weight End Up On Their Report Card?

by Chris Cato

Ben Castilaw, a father said, "A lot of times it's not the kids fault. The parents don't push their kids to get out and exercise or to get off the couch."

With childhood obesity on the rise across Texas, state lawmakers could be stepping in to make parents face the big truth about their child's weight. If a proposal before the legislature becomes law, your child could have their body mass index number, showing if they're average, overweight, or obese, right next to their grades on their school report card.

The proposal is getting a lot of reaction from parents.

Steve Capps, another father said, "Are they gonna weigh them in or are they gonna weigh every so often, put their weight on it. They may be conscientious about their weight, and I just think it could have a negative effect."

Keri Dickerson, a mother said, "I think that's a family's responsibility, but I don't think it's something to be put on the record and follow them through school -- on something that's supposed to be academic."

Some are looking at the plan as a way to definitely get attention from parents about childhood obesity problems. Others believe that, if somebody has an overweight kid, they already know, without a report card reminder.

Vicki Evans, a principal at Lufkin Middle School said, "I believe the parents know if their child's overweight, and I believe our students know if they're overweight."

Some parents we spoke with tell us they are afraid the public is placing too much emphasis on weight. They say if a student's body mass index is placed on their report card, it will only make them more self conscious about their weight, and might even cause more problems with eating disorders.

The proposed report cards would show parents their child's body mass index, or BMI. The body mass index is calculated by taking your weight and dividing it by your height. Dietitians we spoke with say it gives a good indication if you're overweight, but the number can be misleading because it does not take into consideration your overall size, just your height.

Amy Mcleod, Food Services Director at Woodland Heights Medical Center said, "Maybe a child has a large frame, or a small frame, so it may not take that into account, and children are growing."

Experts say the results can be especially skewed in children because the body mass index is based on adult sizes. They advise looking at other factors too, like exercise and muscle tone, when looking at the BMI.

Some folks are wondering if posting health information on a report card is even legal. We spoke with some health care experts that tell us sharing this information on report cards would not fall under any HIPPA guidelines, as far as they know.

They say the same information used to calculate BMI, a student's height and weight, can be found on any person's drivers license. But others suggest school children are minors and different rules apply.

So far, there is no clear answer on if report card BMI's could be certified as legal.