Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Body Mass Index (BMI) controversy

What is the story about the Body Mass Index (BMI) discussion at the School Committee meeting on 10/27/09?

  1. The school district nurses have been recording height and weight of students for years
  2. Some of the School Committee members were unaware of this detail
  3. The State has changed the regulations to use the height/weight data obtained to calculate the student’s BMI to send to the parents for use in discussions with the family physicians
  4. The district could loose $43,000 in grant money over 11 years if they are not in compliance
  5. Compliance with the BMI process would mean the nurses would take less measurements of student’s height/weight. Only certain grades would be required for measurement. 
  6. Non-compliance would require taking measurements of all students across all grade levels
  7. Regulation language provided was not clear in what the new vs. old requirements were
  8. Some School Committee members objected to the intrusion of the schools into a patient/physician relationship
  9. Some School Committee members see the bigger benefit of providing the BMI information to the parents to help address the overweight and related health issues associated with the youth today

End result of discussion Tuesday
The policy draft was voted not to move to a Second Reading by a 4-3 vote.

What does this mean?
The policy draft goes back to the subcommittee to address the questions that were raised before coming back to the full committee.

Note: two of the four votes against the policy are leaving the School Committee. Cora Armenio is not running for re-election. Matt Kelly is running for Town Council. The positions of the next two members of the School Committee are unknown.

Should this be an issue to go back and challenge the State on to fund their mandate? For about $40,000?

The privacy issue is one to fight but the case in this circumstance I think is weak. Privacy rules already cripple teachers and I don't hear anyone raising an issue with those.

If your child requires medication at school and the regular teacher has a substitute, did you know that the regular teacher can not leave information about your child's special requirements?
If your child has a severe allergic reaction to something like peanuts, did you know the classroom teacher can not provide a list of these needs to the supervisory personnel for their recess time when the regular teacher won't always be on duty?

I think these are more life threatening issues that privacy rules currently hinder. 

Isn't the BMI a measurement as simple as taking one's temperature? Would it violate someone's privacy to let the parents know the child is running a temperature?

You can respond with a comment or answer the poll question on the top of the center column:

Should your school measure BMI to report to you and your physician? Yes or No

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