A mum in Florida was shocked to read a fat letter sent home from her daughter’s school.
Kristen Grasso couldn’t believe what she was reading when her 11-year-old daughter Lilly came home from school.
The ‘fat letter’ from school suggested her daughter was overweight – that her BMI was higher than it should have been. The healthy tween does not look overweight. She’s an active volleyball player and eats healthy foods at home.
“First, I was hurt, and then I was angry, and then I just was concerned,” Grasso said. “To give a kid a letter telling them the rest of their life they may be overweight or be obese because of a measurement you took one day, it’s just not fair.”
In a bid to decrease childhood obesity, schools in America are screening the BMI rating for each student as a way to encourage healthy eating and living.
But health authorities believe the program is having the opposite effect on kids.
Of course it’s important for parents to be aware of their children’s health, but it’s quite another for the school to inform a parent their child is fat. Eating disorders are on the rise amongst teenagers and there has to be a better way to educate children and teens on healthy body image.
Lilly admits receiving the letter hurt her.
“This whole thing is stupid. It’s just not useful. It can hurt people. It can break their courage,” said Lilly.
Kristen wants to remove the labelling system from schools, although the letter has sparked a conversation with her daughter about positive body image.
In recent years, the BMI index has been attacked by researchers saying it’s not the most accurate way to measure body weight. BMI can’t distinguish between fat and muscle, which is why Kristen’s measurement may have been higher.
In Australia, there have been arguments on the effectiveness of measuring a child’s weight and height at school to tackle childhood obesity.
CEO of the Butterfly Foundation for eating disorders Christine Morgan explained tracking a student’s weight would need to be approached carefully if it was ever to be introduced to schools.
“If it is done in a way where a child is made to feel that their size or shape is not okay then that could lead to really serious issues”, she said.