The Talker: Are school BMI reports a trigger for bullying? - | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

The Talker: Are school BMI reports a trigger for bullying?

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Nearly 25 percent of states now require public schools to measure students' body mass index. If a student is deemed to be "overweight" or "obese," many schools send a report to the child's parents encouraging them to talk to a doctor about the issue.

While doctors say it's another useful tool, some parents say the "fat letters" could hurt a child's self-esteem.

6-year-old Jalin Sharp is an active first grader. His mother says she's heard about children being checked to find out their body mass index, although she says it hasn't happened to her son at his school in Evanston.

"I think it's wrong for them to simply say, to tell children to go on a diet," Shanika McIntosh says. "If they're young, eventually it's going to wear off."

Illinois is one of several states that gives schools the option to measure a student's BMI. Report cards would be sent home revealing where each child stands.

Many doctors say it's necessary to fight an epidemic of childhood obesity to make parents aware of the issue.

"We've tried raising awareness, we've tried health education. All kids in school get health education classes and clearly that hasn't been effective," says FOX 32 Medical Contributor Dr. Mona Khanna.

There is concern among parents that their children may become the victim of bullying.

"As a parent, if I come home and I see a letter there and I'm reading it and my son asks me, what does this mean? What's going on? And you have to explain to them, ‘oh the school thinks you're overweight' or ‘the school thinks you're underweight' or however it goes. It's just not right," says McIntosh.

"I think that this will put it on the radar screen and say not only is there a problem, but you've got future issues to deal with unless you attack it right away," Dr. Mona adds.

Parents we spoke to say that their children's doctors check their BMI, but they don't want to receive letters like in other states.

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