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State Health Officials Approve BMI Testing In Schools

State health officials have unanimously approved a new rule requiring all public school children in Massachusetts to have their body mass index, or BMI, tested to help determine if they're overweight.

The regulation will be phased in statewide over the next two school years. Eventually, all public school students in the first, fourth, seventh, and tenth grades will have their weights and heights measured so their BMIs can be calculated.

Lauren Smith, medical director at the state Department of Public Health, says the new rule addresses parent concerns about privacy and confidentiality.

"Measurements will be done in private so that there's not a sense of any sort of embarrassment," Smith assures. "The communication home will be done in a confidential way so that it's not going home in the children's backpacks where people could see the information."

Parents who don't want their children screened can opt out. The BMI testing is aimed at raising awareness about childhood obesity.

This program aired on April 8, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

Sacha Pfeiffer Twitter Host, All Things Considered
Sacha Pfeiffer was formerly the host of WBUR's All Things Considered.

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