In a nod to the growing problem of childhood obesity, the Kentucky board of education recently approved a proposal that would require schools to calculate and record a child’s body mass index, or BMI, based on weight and height. At the same time, the proposal also eliminates the practice of checking middle school students for the spine condition scoliosis.
The American Academy of Pediatrics calls childhood obesity an “epidemic” and recommends BMI screening for early identification of excessive weight gain.
Kentucky ranked third in the number of children ages 10 to 17 considered obese—at 21 percent—in a 2010 study by the nonprofit advocacy group Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Mississippi was first, at almost 22 percent, and Georgia second at 21.3 percent.
The trust said that as of 2011, 21 states were calculating BMI in schools, up from four in 2005.
The new regulation could take effect in the 2012-13 school year.
A version of this article appeared in the February 22, 2012 edition of Education Week as Ky. Schools to Track Students’ Body Mass