DALLAS, Jan. 26, 2005 — A Texas lawmaker has proposed legislation that would require the state's public schools to weigh students and record their body mass index on report cards that are sent home to parents.
The measure has proven controversial, but Dallas resident Tamatha Hamblen wishes the program had been in effect years ago, when her daughter, Amber, first attended school. Amber is now 12 years old, 100 pounds overweight, and on the verge of developing type 2 diabetes.
"She probably wouldn't have gained so much weight if I had known how to take care of it," said Hamblen.
State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, says she proposed the law in response to public health statistics that classify more than a third of school-age children in Texas as obese or overweight.
"While it seems tough, we are trying to save kids' lives," she said. "This generation of students will predecease their parents because of their health status."
"[The proposal] is one other way to get the message out to parents about it, so they can act on that information and make some changes," said Dr. Sarah Blomstein, a pediatric obesity specialist.
Texas is not the first state to consider school obesity reports. Arkansas began weighing public school students in 2003 and found nearly half a million students — 38 percent of the school population — were classified as overweight. The state's governor says the program is showing results.
"I don't want the government being the grease police," said Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Republican. "But what we have to do is create and atmosphere in which healthier choices of life are rewarded."
Emotional Toll on Children
Nevertheless, many parents and educators are concerned about the emotional toll the proposed initiative make take on children.
Yeah,.. that's just what we need. Not like school wasn't bad enough for me growing up, I would have been mortified to have my weight on my report card.
I swear,.. this is the parent's responsibility, not the freakin school's. What are your thoughts?
01-26-2005, 08:03 PM
When I was a kid, we all lined up at the nurse's office, and she weighed us, yelling the weight out to someone who recorded it. Of course, everyone in my class heard it. When I was in the fourth grade, I weighed 114 lbs., which everyone thought was huge. It was embarrassing, and I wouldn't wish that on anyone. I was 5'4" tall in the fourth grade, taller than anyone else, which made matters worse.
Perhaps schools should try cutting out their money-making junk food vending machines, cooking good-tasting, healthy food at lunch, and closing campuses at noon plus adding physical education classes. I think that kids know that they are obese and don't need someone outside their family to tell them so, and I think parent know their kids are obese. Educating parents would be a good start. Many parents of obese kids are obese themselves, and the changes have to come within the home.
01-26-2005, 10:12 PM
Well said ladies.
I have been overweight since about the age of seven and believe me, my family did not need a number on my report card to know it. If the child in the article is now 100 lbs overweight, did the mother really have no clue about it as it was happening?
Besides, if a parent can’t see that their child is having trouble with his/her weight, are they likely to know what a BMI number means? And what about helping them identify and make the positive changes that are needed?
I was in a training class last weekend where the speaker said that she doesn’t like receiving complaints/problems from anyone unless they also bring with them a possible solution to the problem. I give the lawmaker credit for seeing the problem but I don’t think her solution will help. I agree with Heather, this is the parent’s responsibility. The schools do what they can in health class.
And just as an aside, as someone who works in the Texas school system, let me thank the lawmaker for wanting to add yet another task onto the schools while the legislature continues to reduce our funding (oh the sarcasm).
01-26-2005, 11:17 PM
I don't remember being horrified by someone hearing my weight, but I do remember having to get undressed in front of everyone, rolls and all. It was embarrassing but it was something that had to be done.
As far as putting weight on the report card, I don't think it is necessary. I do think more physical activity and healthier school foods would help though. Although the physical activity didn't help me much, I have always been pretty active despite my weight. I was on a youth track team when I was in elementary/junior high and even though I was doing shotput, I still had to run with the rest of the kids. I also was in ballet/tap in elementary school and cheerleader as well in elementary school. In high school/college, I played volleyball and did regular exercise. I suppose if I had been able to control my food all those years, I might've been a chubby child instead of an obese one.
01-27-2005, 01:39 AM
I agree,..take out those vending machines and all the junk food if the schools are really worried about obesity. When I graduated, we had one vending machine. All it sold was Hawaiin Punch and Ocean Spray fruit juices. Now they have Pepsi and coke machines.. nachos, chips, milkshakes..etc etc etc
01-27-2005, 04:46 AM
:soap: this is sooo typical of public schools - do everything else but teach the child!! this gets me so angry. :bomb: When I hear stories like this it just confirms my decision to not send my child to a public school.
And how stupid do you have to be as a mother not to realize that child needs to lose weight?
Not only do I agree with the comments about the vending machines... this should hold true to the hot lunches. I would really love to hear the calorie/fat/carb content of those lunches.
01-27-2005, 09:40 AM
I think that is a very bad idea. I like what Sheila said about taking the vending machines with junk food out of the schools and replace the food in the cafeteria's with healthy food choices instead of crap like fried foods and what not. And get rid of regular pop/soda, that stuff is what can cause a lot of the obesity problems, believe me I know that one(I was a huge pop drinker). INstead put diet pop(and more flavours than just diet coke or diet pepsi), and 'natural' juices(not the sugary juices) in the vending machines for drinks.
I don't know why parents need to be told of the weight of their children as if these parents don't realize that their child is overweight, then there is something seriously wrong with the parent(s).
My daughter is 7(almost 8) yrs old and she is overweight and I know it and I am trying to change our lifestyle of food choices and such. Also she walks with me every afternoon to go and pick up her brother from daycare now too.
I just think putting the child's weight on their report card is demeaning and is more way for setting up teasing and bullying situations.
01-27-2005, 10:02 AM
Quite frankly this is the first time i heard about such drastic measures. My opinion is that, in certain cases the end does not always justify the means. Everyone would like to see young Americans (and Canadians) healthy and within normal BMI. I also agree that obesity can now be considered epidemic in north America.
However, I do not agree with the idea of sending “obesity reports” to parents. As some people mentioned, The parents should be able to see for themselves if their kid is overweight. There are other ways for schools to promote healthy lifestyles. Improving quality of Cafeteria food and giving enough Phys. Ed. classes being the most important ones.
That said, if I remember 20 years ago, when I was an obese HS student I’m not sure if I would have survived such measures. I was laughed at, turned down when asking girls out, bullied because of my weight…..This caused me to become a very lonely and quite depressed person at that time….The last thing I needed was to be stigmatized by school administration….
01-27-2005, 11:49 AM
Yeah, isn't that a wacky idea?
I read a long article about the problems in Texas in the newspaper. It said the heaviest counties are characterized by being poor, and largely hispanic (near the border). That culture plays a part as well, and that parents feel guilty about saying no to what their kids want to eat, and that the kids play games with the parents in terms of the parents being illegal immigrants and the kids threatening to report them. And the parents usually work long hours.
There weren't many vending machines when I was in school, and I don't remember them selling any fast foods. Only a handful of kids (about 5 in 350) were heavy (myself one of them). I agree that a family knows when their kid has weight problems. Either they can't or don't want to deal with it, or they don't knowhow.
I think schools have a responsibility to serve healthy foods and offer physical activity to the kids, but it seems to me that families are the place where kids need to learn good habits. It just seems like a lot to expect from the school system.
01-27-2005, 12:41 PM
Personally I don't see a problem with this IF
1. It didn't going on their permanent record
2. The children aren't weighed in a group setting where other kids can make fun of their weight.
3. Tips and ideas on how to get the family to eat healthy and not just single out the overweight child
4. Better and healthier breakfasts and lunches are served
5. They do away with the vending machines in schools.
Like you all said, parents know their children are overweight. A lot of times it may just mean the parent needs more knowledge in how to eat healtier and such. I know where I live almost all the children have reduced or free lunches provided by the school and many times that's the only meals those kids get. Last year they had the nutrition info listed on those meals and let me tell you some of them were upwards of 1000 calories for one lunch.
To top it off my step son has told me they can go back for seconds and sometimes thirds!!!
I know they sure aren't eating healthy when they have this on a monthly basis. Here is this month's menu for the school in the town where I work.
01-27-2005, 12:51 PM
I remember the humiliation of lining up in the gym to be weighed and measured when I was a kid. It makes me cringe just to think about it. :fr:
I live in Arkansas and yup, we did get a report starting last year. It was not displayed on the report cards, thank goodness! But we were sent a letter with the child's weight and BMI and an evaluation of what range they are in compared to other children. It also had some generic tips on eating healthy and being more active. But I gotta say, it really seemed pretty pointless. Sure, you've told us they're weight and if you think they're overweight, etc. (as if we didn't already know), now what? There was nothing really useful in the report, just the numbers. I guess it's good to know, but IMO pretty unnecessary. We know if our kids are overweight or not. In fact, I agonize over it because I don't want my DD to suffer the same kind of pain and humiliation as I did, being an obese child. It's all fine and dandy to send home a report to tell you if your kid is fat or not, but how about some real action for a change? Like taking cheeseburgers and fries off the school lunch menu? Chicken nuggets, tator tots, pizza, mac-n-cheese, what do they expect?? Sorry, it just seems awfully hypocritical to me. I guess they mean well, but it seems they're good intentions got lost somewhere in the vat of greasy french fries. :(
01-27-2005, 01:14 PM
Here's a funny but also dramatic anecdote on how school managament sometimes just dosen't care about food served at cafeteria.
Last year, i went to an open doors day at the High-school i graduated from in 1987. Went to the cafeteria and had a peek at the menu.
It was, with few excpetions, the same menu than the one we had 18 years ago. They even served the same meals on the same days (ex. Pizza on fridays)....
Talk about variety :eek:
01-27-2005, 01:15 PM
Well some sound all right and some sound pretty bad. Take the pizza lunch for example. From what I remember of content and serving size I would say the pizza lunch is 820 calories and 24 grams of fat. Not real good. Here is my break down I am usually pretty close.
Pizza 300 cal 10 grams fat.
salad 200 cal 8 grams of fat (depends on dressing)
pineapple 100 cal 0 fat
pudding 100 cal 1 fat
Milk 120 cal 5 fat
You eat that 3 times a day and your going to be over the recomended fat and calorie content. They should make the lunches more healthy. And teach the kids how to eat right and make good choices. Putting weight on the grade card is not going to change anything.
01-27-2005, 01:42 PM
Hmmm. I think that a parent can look at their child and know if they are fat or not, they don't need to do this. but, I agree with getting rid of vending machines and healthy lunches and maybe if you want to get the parents involved, sending home healthy eating tips with the report card and the parent can do what they want with it. weighing in seems abusive.
01-27-2005, 03:09 PM
Ack... not to start anything, but please...
Ixnay on the iberal-lay ackos-way. It's completely irrelevant to the discussion whether the wackos stuffing our kids full of ham hocks and country fried chicken-fried-steak-fries are liberal or conservative.
01-27-2005, 04:06 PM
Jen, you,’re right about this. I think the debate should be placed above liberal – conservative division point of view…..and
01-27-2005, 04:53 PM
teapotdynamo... check your private messages.
01-27-2005, 05:06 PM
I think it's useless as well, and I consider myself a liberal wacko! :lol:
Let's all agree together that the REAL WACKOS are the ones who decided to make 800 calorie lunches for kids, OK? :D
Also, I don't know how many of you are aware, but most schools also have al a carte as well, and the kids don't buy the oranges! Chips, cookies, brownies, soda, and lots of other nasty stuff. Not good! :mad:
01-27-2005, 06:17 PM
My mom works at an elementary school and she tells me that the kids have a salad bar and what they eat off the salad bar are croutons and dressing. She says that they'll fill their plates with croutons and gobs of dressing to eat with the croutons. So even the "healthier" options aren't always that healthy.
01-27-2005, 06:17 PM
That may be true in High School Apryl, but as far as I know, most elementary schools do not offer other options. Not that a 7 year old would choose a salad over a cheeseburger anyway! I figure they're just serving what they know the kids will eat. Imagine if the only choice they had was healthy food, the poor dears would starve all day rather eat what we would wish they would!!
01-27-2005, 06:21 PM
Oops, Nelie, we must have posted at the same time. How cool that this elementary school has a salad bar! It's too bad that they usually load up on the wrong stuff, but at least they have a choice. That's way more than I can say for my DD's school.
01-27-2005, 07:24 PM
I used to work as a "lunch lady" in our local schools. Healthy choices? The salad bar was usually some nasty looking wilted lettuce and vegetables. :p The fruit was pretty good-mostly melon and oranges. Unfortunately, most of the kids went through the "express" line. What were the choices? Pepperoni pizza dripping with cheese, greasy fries, sometimes hot dogs and hamburgers, or chicken fillet sandwiches. Everything loaded with fat, sodium, and calories. And right outside the cafeteria, the vending machines pushing sugary soda. Do you know where the profits from these soda machines went? To the sports programs! Forget about good nutrition-the football team needs new uniforms! :mad:
The double standard applied here is sickening. Kids are being singled out because of their weight, but they're also being surrounded (mostly in middle/high school) with unhealthy food choices. Why not offer weight loss support programs after school? They might be surprised at how many kids would be willing to join.
01-27-2005, 09:26 PM
Ummm, ridiculous. The kid should be getting physicals anyway, and they weigh you at the doctors office and concerns should be brought up then, by a parent or family doctor, not a relative stranger. It's just not helpful any way you slice it. Nor is the food they serve! It'd be idealistic to say that every parent is willing to put in time to understand and enforce their child's nutritional needs, but it would sure be nice, too.
I'll bite my tongue on the other stuff.
01-27-2005, 10:13 PM
My local news had a story on a high school that switched to healthy vending items, and vending machine income was down big time. As Joanne mentioned, the money all goes to school programs so they're now hurting for cash. Since the kids could go off campus, they were now enriching the local economy by purchasing junk food at the corner mini-mart. It's a pretty complex problem (says another liberal whacko) when you think about all the ramifications. I do like the idea of after-school weight support groups, especially in elementary school. Or call Dr. Phil to the rescue!
01-27-2005, 11:33 PM
Wow - And they wonder how kids develop low self -esteem?! :eek: I have been fairly overweight my whole life, and I know I was embarassed enough to not tell them my real weight when getting my drivers license. Could you imagine how a young child would feel having their weight on their report card? I think its a bad idea all around. There are many other ways - and the parents have the first responsibility to take care of their childs weight problem. I can just imagine having to line up at school for your weight while other kids laughed in the line at you.
I do agree with the school having healthy options only though. Don't give the kids any bad choices. I'm sure they'll be hungry enough to just eat all the good wholesome & nutritious food and won't even notice the difference. I mean having a "Pizza Day" once a month or even week is fine, but Everday?! I mean really who designs these school lunch programs???
Anyways, I could go on and on about this subjet for hours and suggestions that schools could do... but I'll stop rambling for now. :)
01-27-2005, 11:46 PM
Liberal or conservative I don't know about that. I think it's a bunch of skinny wackos that never had to be embarrassed about there weight. Maybe they should have there worst feature brodcast for everyone to talk about.
01-28-2005, 12:18 AM
Celina: Does anyone tell the truth on their licenses? :lol:
Howie: I think that you said it best with "Maybe they should have there worst feature brodcast for everyone to talk about."
Sometimes I think to myself it would be a WONDERFUL world if the people without weight problems could have whatever is "least pretty" about them blown up 100 times. Maybe they'd learn to be a little more sensitive?
Have a good weekend, everyone. :)
01-28-2005, 12:43 AM
apryl - hey if i wasn't overweight then i probably wouldn't care.. ;) hehe. it was just the example i used to show that weight can be a very sensitive issue and shouldn't be just thrown on a report card (which has nothing to do with your weight?) :)
01-31-2005, 12:41 PM
I just took a quiz over at the discovery channel website and one of the questions was how many parents of heavy children think their kids are heavy?
I answered 100 percent, the answer they gave as correct was 28 percent.
I don't have kids, but it was in my mind how could a parent not know? I guess you love your kid so much you don't want to think they're going through anything painful. Or you just don't want it to be a big deal. To me as a kid, being large sized was a HUGE deal. I never complained to my parents about it (our family had enough problems, the way I saw it then).
01-31-2005, 01:28 PM
On one hand I am as horrified as the next person imagining myself being weighed and measured at school and having those numbers on my report card. But clearly though the powers that be are seeing that there is a significant problem in child obesity and are making efforts to do something about it Not saying that this is the best solution though! As in Marge's post their are a lot of parents that don't realize that their kids are overweight. Having some kind of feedback from the school might be invaluable if the parents don't realize or won't admit that there is a problem. I think it would be better if a school nurse telephoned or sent a letter to the parents rather than putting the results on a report card. If they are going to start doing something like this they also need to follow up by being able to direct parents to support programs or something to help the child lose weight.
I never went to a school that had that much of a cafeteria, most kids either went home for lunch or brown bagged it so I can't really comment on that problem. However I think we have to agree that school is a small part of the problem. Kids only spend a portion of their day there and have only 1 meal at school. It is irrelevant if they have PE or not or other organized sports program. The willingness to be active and to seek out activity comes from home. My 4 nieces are all rail thin because they spent most of the time outside playing instead of inside in front of the tv or playing video games.
I saw a report on tv of the results of a study done that showed that the children of obese parents were 70% more likely to be obese as well. If the mother was obese than it was about 40%. I think the whole issue of childhood obesity is very scary and one that I hope I am able to help my son avoid.
01-31-2005, 03:38 PM
Like everyone else I am appalled that the State of Texas would even consider such a public way of informing parents of such sensative information. But, being a resident of Texas, I have doubts that this idea will ever get off the ground. Texas voters are very vocal when it comes to issues of this sort and I guarantee there will be many parents raising ten kinds of ****.
I do know that the state is taking measures to get rid of the vending machines in the public schools. My son is in high school and so far they have removed the junk food machines and have changed the drink machines to carry juices, diet soda, and sports drinks. I think there is only 2 machines left that sell that have regular sodas and they are not available to the general population.
But they still have the lunches that are packed with carbs & fat.