When Schools Report Students' Weight to Parents, Changes Seldom Happen, Study Finds

Filed under: In The News, Research Reveals: Big Kids, Research Reveals: Tweens

childhood obesity

Researcher says schools should be more pro-active when it comes to notifying parents of obese children. Credit: John Moore, Getty Images

So, your kid got an B- in math, a C in science and totally flunked when it came to his weight last semester? If only that last piece of info had been included in his report card, maybe you would have him hitting the gym, as well as the books, this summer.

In California, nearly all public schools have been keeping track of students' height and weight when they are fifth, seventh and ninth graders for 10 years, but not all are passing that info on to parents, Reuters reports. And, a new study shows, even when schools do notify parents when their kids are obese or overweight, it doesn't make much of a difference.

Dr. Kristine A. Madsen of the University of California, San Francisco, tells Reuters kids didn't lose any more weight when their parents were told they had pounds to shed than students whose parents were not notified.

"Physical education is probably the most underused public health tool we have," she tells the news service. "We really would urge schools to make sure their environments are supporting physical activity to the extent possible."

Madsen tells Reuters schools also should try a little harder to reach parents -- sending a letter, the way most were notified, may not be enough, and terms such as "body mass index" were used instead of words like "obesity," which could lead to confusion.

"Even if they see the letter, we think they may not get the message," she tells the news service.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.