Notifying parents of a student’s body mass index may not be an effective way to address childhood obesity,.
Such reporting has grown popular over the past decade, despite limited research about the strategy’s effectiveness and concerns that tracking students’ size could lead to problems with body image and self-esteem.
Arkansas’ Act 1220, signed into law in 2003, was a pioneering comprehensive childhood-obesity law that included the BMI reporting requirement. Since then, eight states have adopted similar school-based, BMI screening and notification policies, according to University of California, Davis, researcher Kevin Gee. His study was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
Gee found that students who received the BMI ratings in 11th and 12th grade did not have different health outcomes or changes in eating and exercise behaviors from students who did not.
A version of this article appeared in the August 26, 2015 edition of Education Week as Student Health