Different Strokes for Different States

This blog has been looking at some complications that can stand in the way of the concept of growth measurement, sometimes known as student fitness screening, which is mainly concerned with tracking obesity in school children. We looked extensively at the Body Mass Index measurement process, which establishes the person’s weight in proportion to their height. According to “Childhood Obesity Legislation — 2013 Update of Policy Options,” published by the National Conference of State Legislators, the technique is “widely accepted as a reliable indicator of body fat content.”

Some states mandate the reporting of individual student BMI measurement, while others require the reporting of aggregate BMI data, for various reasons, like identifying which states have the best and worst records of helping children who are headed for obesity or already there.

A few selected states

In 2013, legislators in Massachusetts, New York and Oklahoma left the debate over BMI measurement to wait for their 2014 sessions. Massachusetts carried over a bill that would require BMI measurement in first, fourth, seventh, and 10th grades; and another that would prohibit the health department from collecting height, weight, or BMI data at all. New York had several different bills, all aiming for the collection of the same information.

Oklahoma’s proposed law seemed determined to please everyone, by providing students with the opportunity to attend health and wellness-centered school assemblies, where they could also receive informational material from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those who wanted their BMI calculated could have that done, and their parents would receive a letter explaining the results.

In that year, Mississippi, Montana and New Jersey looked at legislation that would address BMI measurement but did not pass anything. South Carolina gave schools the authority to do the measurements and collect the data, while Arkansas considered, then rejected, a proposed law that would have ended its BMI measurement program.

Other matters

But obtaining, recording, and reporting BMI stats was not the only thing on the minds of school administrators nationwide. The federal government wanted them to be interested in quite a few health-related areas, including:

  • Diabetes Screening and Management at School
  • Insurance Coverage for Obesity Prevention and Treatment
  • Joint or Cooperative Use Agreements for School Facilities
  • Physical Activity or Physical Education in Schools and School Recess Legislation
  • Raising Awareness
  • School Nutrition Legislation
  • School Wellness Policies
  • Task Forces, Commissions, Studies, Grants and Other Special Programs
  • Taxes, Tax Credits, Tax Exemptions and Other Fiscal Incentives

(To be continued…)

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Childhood Obesity Legislation – 2013 Update of Policy Options,” NCSL.org, 03/01/14
Image by Joshua Tree National Park/Public Domain

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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