Testing students body mass index sparks controversy

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Testing students body mass index sparks controversy

CREATED Sep 3, 2013

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- One thing some students may be stressed about this year is not necessarily their GPA, instead their BMI.

"Fat letters" and "Fitness grams" are just two nicknames for the new type of report cards that schools in 19 states, from Arkansas to Illinois, take part in.

These body mass index (BMI) reports are a result of measuring students at annual weigh-ins, which are then sent home to their parents, indicating whether a child is in the green, healthy zone or the red, danger zone.

VOTE NOW: Do you believe testing a student's body mass index is an effective way to fight childhood obesity?

Pediatricians said BMI readings are helpful in combating childhood obesity, but eating disorder experts worry the readings do more harm than good.

"I would like to see BMI testing in schools banned. For those who are already insecure about their weight, these tests can potentially trigger an eating disorder," said Claire Mysko, National Eating Disorder Association.

More than 40-percent of 9 and 10-year-old girls have already been on a diet, and as many as 60-percent of all 6 to 12-year-olds are worried about their weight.

According to the Clark County School District, Nevada state law requires 4th, 7th and 10th grade students at 19 schools to be checked.

A grant from the Centers for Disease Control requires 3rd, 6th and 9th grade students at 23 schools to get tested.

CCSD said there must be parental consent to do the screenings. In addition, the BMI results are confidential between the students and their teacher.