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Old 11-20-2010, 03:55 AM   #1
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Default Flagstaff : Flagstaff schools warn parents of overweight kids

FLAGSTAFF, AZ - The Flagstaff school district is getting ready to send letters to the parents of elementary school children who are overweight or headed in that direction.

"These are serious, serious problems going on inside of these children now, and we have to do drastic things to make them better," Pediatrician Nina Souders told the Flagstaff Unified School District board last week.

Flagstaff physicians and nurses are reporting obesity-related diabetes in children as young as age 4.

The school district's top nurse estimates about 50 percent of the district's elementary school students will be classified as overweight or bordering on overweight.

"They hand out condoms in school, I don't see a big difference in telling someone they are overweight," a Valley mother told us Sunday.

Elementary school students will be weighed and measured this fall with help from Flagstaff Medical Center's Fit Kids staff and North Country HealthCare, according to Souders.

The nonprofit groups will target education efforts, particularly to schools with more students with severe weight problems.

Letters will go to parents of students who are underweight, overweight or marginally overweight, and will include graphs showing a range of weights for a given age and height, said Souders.

School district Superintendent Barbara Hickman said the educators will recommend good nutrition, exercise and a visit to a physician, but it's up to parents to decide what they want to do.

Hickman also expects calls from displeased parents.

"This is an emotional subject," she said. "It brings up difficult issues and parents can be a little bit offended sometimes."

However, Hickman said the district needs to raise the issue.

"Given the effect this has on the long-term health of our kids, once we know about it, we have to say something," she said.

Board member Chris Bavasi asked about adding more physical education time to the school week, but officials said that given academic requirements, that would be unlikely unless the school day were lengthened.

Elementary, middle and high school students in Flagstaff take physical education, but it's not required daily.

Health classes cover nutrition but also other topics such as bullying or sexual health, Hickman said.
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Old 11-20-2010, 07:10 AM   #2
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I'm curious to see a school menu from this place. If it's full of pizza, french fries, chicken nuggets and burritos they're a bunch of hypocrites.

Edit: Quick search found it online...indeed they are hypocrites! You can find the menu here: http://www.fusd1.org/192710651514316...BCOB=0&C=57410

Last edited by MindiV; 11-20-2010 at 07:11 AM.
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Old 11-20-2010, 10:17 AM   #3
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Good grief, how traumatic for the kids.

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Old 11-20-2010, 10:31 AM   #4
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While I agree that kids are much more overweight these days, humiliating them at school isn't going to help any. I think if they just fix their menu and make sure the kids are participating in physical activity that would make a big difference. And instead of sending out reports on how fat or skinny their kid is, they could just send out information about healthy eating and proper weight ranges for a child's age and height. I was one of the few chubby kids in school, and I remember how awful it felt to have attention brought to my weight and size.

That said, something has to be done. I recently went to my 12yr old niece's soccer game and over half the kids on her team were overweight. The sooner those kids can learn about proper nutrition the better their life's will be. But I think it's better to educate and not signal out overweight and obese children, they already feel like outsiders.
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Old 11-20-2010, 10:51 AM   #5
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If they REALLY want kids to be healthier (or skinnier or more normal looking or whatever they're trying to promote ), they should fix the meals at their school and target the health of ALL of their kids. Thin does not always equal healthy.

Put in the effort, time and money into serving healthy, tasty foods. It can be done.

But it's unlikely they'll do that. They'll just say, "There's a problem - fix it. Oh, and remember, pizza/hotdog/processed desserts day is every Tuesday."

I do think something needs to be done, but it needs to a) be done so the kids don't think they are somehow defective (trust me, it can feel like that as an overweight kid), and the administration needs to pitch in and DO something like serve healthy food or give recess. Something.

I think it's good for parents to be aware of their child's weight issues and about how to work to change them. A lot of parents of overweight kids don't actually realize they're overweight.

Interesting article. Thanks for posting it, OP!

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Old 11-20-2010, 11:03 AM   #6
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I think this is an example of people wanting to "do good," but having no real idea of how to accomplish their goal. I teach 6th grade in an elementary school, and I guarantee you there isn't a single overweight child in my class that does not already realize (and obsess in most cases about the fact) that they are heavier than they are supposed to be. I've seen first graders skip lunch because they say they are too fat. I personally think their plan will accomplish little other than embarrassment on the part of the already embarrassed children.

I glanced at their lunch menu (thanks for the link MindiV), and I noticed there was some kind of presentation from a "roving chef" for students and parents, I think. That seems like a good idea to me - having family nights at school where parents and kids come to learn about cooking and healthy food choices, try new foods, taste new recipes, and hopefully, take some ideas home that they can incorporate into their menus. Having one or two of those a month would probably make a much bigger difference in their students' attitudes toward food than just pointing out that they're overweight.
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Old 11-20-2010, 12:22 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by MindiV View Post
I'm curious to see a school menu from this place. If it's full of pizza, french fries, chicken nuggets and burritos they're a bunch of hypocrites.

Edit: Quick search found it online...indeed they are hypocrites! You can find the menu here: http://www.fusd1.org/192710651514316...BCOB=0&C=57410
They have a variety of choices, and there is a fresh fruit and vegetable bar everyday. It's acutally better than a lot of school menus I've seen.

As I said in the last thread that discussed this issue, it comes down to funding. Funding for healthy food. Funding for PE. Funding for kids.

I just read an article this morning where there was a big budget meeting to discuss the enormous deficit of my local school system. One of the proposed cuts was school athletics. That won't help improve kids' physical activity.

Until our voters and politicians put kids first, the problems will outweigh the solutions.

50% of the elementary students in Flag are thought to be obese and overweight? Should the people involved in school health NOT talk to the parents about this? Perhaps the parents will then push for improvement in the cafeteria menu and for daily PE. Perhaps the parents will rise up and attend school board meetings and say, "No way are you cutting athletics or PE."

ETA: I quoted Mindi's link but this post is general and not directed at her. Just throwing out some thoughts.
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Last edited by midwife; 11-20-2010 at 12:22 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 11-20-2010, 02:29 PM   #8
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Funding? If there is funding for the kids to be weighed and measured by doctors and nurses (so plenty of money spent there then!) and then letters to be sent out to parents there's money to do something much more constructive. PE during the school day doesn't cost extra money, it's a required part of a the teachers' job to teach it and teach it they shall! Schools think they need all sorts of additional equipment to do this but certainly at elementary you don't need a coach and a gym you need to get the kids out and run in the playground whenever it's dry, to try to put more moving into everyday classes. My class used to jump up and down in registration and we did our elementary math by getting off backsides and moving around the room! We used to jump the answers to things - 4+2 is how many and the whole class jumped up and down 6 times. After 10 minutes of mental arithmetic my class was panting, you don't have to take time from other curriculum areas to put in more PE, you just have to work out how PE can be woven into the curriculum as it stands.


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Old 11-20-2010, 03:15 PM   #9
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It's not about the kids knowing they are overweight, it's making sure that the parents know and, more importantly, take it seriously and take some responsibility for it. A lot of people out there think that "fat" and "skinny" are like eye-color--something that just is what it is. Even in this day and age you've got people giving toddlers 4 bottles of juice a day because it's "juice". Lots of people just don't realize they can shape their kid's health.

I am old enough to remember when wearing seat belts wasn't that common of a thing. Parents--good parents--would just let their kids flop all over the place in the back of the station wagon because they didn't realize how much safer it was for a kid to be belted in. My mom started making us wear our seatbelts because of graphic PSAs about how much of a difference they made. I think childhood obesity is like that: the adults think it's a quirk that little Bobby is outgrowing the husky sizes, and they don't make any connection to what they are feeding him, or realize the long term potential damage.

I also don't think this has to be humiliating if letters are sent directly home through the US mail. No one would know if you got one--the kid wouldn't even have to know (it's not like elementary school kids read their parent's mail). Now, I'd agree that handing out "fat letters" at school would be crappy, but it doesn't have to be done like that.
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Old 11-20-2010, 03:25 PM   #10
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We just had a thread about this but the school district wasn't named:

My feelings are it is good to let the parents know but also be aware that many parents will already know and try to take steps to solve the issue. I know my mom did although it didn't do much good. We all know weight is a complicated issue whether you are 8 or 80.
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