Schools May Fight Obesity By Testing BMI

How many are overweight and by how much?

All public school children in Massachusetts would have their body mass index — their BMI — tested at school under a plan the state Department of Public Health takes up Wednesday.

State officials are expected to pass the new BMI-testing regulation, which is aimed at fighting childhood obesity. An estimated one-third of high school and middle school students in Massachusetts are overweight or obese.

Public schools in the state already measure students' heights and weights. But the proposed rule would go a step further by using those numbers to calculate body mass index.

BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight, and it's used to help tell if a person is overweight.

Students' BMI results would then be sent to their parents or guardians, and would also be reported to the state.

Public health officials say BMI testing will raise awareness about obesity. But critics say it could be potentially embarrassing for students, and that schools should focus instead on offering phys ed classes and serving healthy lunches.

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


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