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About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By balletomane0606
On Sat Mar 02, 2013 11:12 AM

www.huffingtonpost.com . . .

Thoughts?

<3 Balletomane0606

47 Replies to About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents

re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By cthompson1474member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sat Mar 02, 2013 02:04 PM
I think it's good that they are trying to notify the parents about a potential health risk. The concern on obese children isn't about looking bad it's about heart problems, diabeties, low energy, added strain on the knees, ect.

The way they are going about it seems like they didnt think it all the way through. BMI is not a good way to measure healthy weight vs unhealthy.

I also don't think the letters should be about weigt alone it should be about fitness levels combined with weight. What about those kids who are naturally skinny but eat junk all day and can't walk up half a flight of stairs without being exhausted? They face the same health risks minus the weight.
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By dancemomtoo
On Sat Mar 02, 2013 02:37 PM
its a joke-and bad for the kids. In 7th grade my daughter was told she had 'too much' BMI (I can't remember the exact phraseology). She is an irish dancer and has always had major leg muscles-major. She was concerned and felt badly. Her next pediatrician's visit was two weeks later and we took the letter in-her doctor read it and was irrate-told my dd that she was fine, no better than fine, wonderful-and said she was going to write the school board.
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By balletgirl4ever
On Sat Mar 02, 2013 09:22 AM
Edited by balletgirl4ever (252388) on 2013-03-02 09:35:06
I think a better way to combat obesity is to make it compulsory to have a 30 minute exercise class for 3/5 school days. It doesn't matter how full the timetable is, this is important so schools would have to find room. Also make it compulsory for students to join a free school sports team (hockey, basketball, athletics) if they do not do sport after school already. That way they will be sure to have at least 4 days of exercise a week.

Along with this there should be a healthy eating policy in the school. Take away all vending machines from all schools. Replace cafeteria food with a menu with foods like soups, salads, chicken fillets/beef (non horse meat!) and greens, yogurts, fruit, granola bars (not chocolate), stir fries etc. Some schools in Ireland (my primary school is an example) have completely banned junk food being eaten in school, except for a small treat on Fridays. Maybe this could work in other countries? It worked for my school!

There is no point in sending students home fat letters. It will just cause controversy. Instead changing the schools sports/exercise regimes and cafeteria food will greatly help in fighting obesity. You have to combat the source of the problem instead of sending out letters stating the problem. They only notify parents of the risks but don't actively do
anything to solve it.


One last point. I also thing that portion size and sugar content are the main culprits in America. Your portions are HUGE!! I couldn't eat everything on my plate when I ate over in NY because it was so big compare to what I was used to! And everything is sugar, sugar and more sugar. Like the M&M store in NY - its cool but this just shows how much emphasis you place on chocolate and sweets. Everything in the US - chocolate bars and sweets and even breakfast cereals that are loaded with E's and sugar. I think that if portions were smaller and the above foods were limited you wouldn't have half as much problems.

~BG
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By UberGoobermember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Mar 02, 2013 04:59 PM
I totally agree that schools should do more to promote healthy eating

I don't have a problem with the letters. It's a screening for awareness, not saying "unless your child is under BMI whatever they can't participate in birthday parties!" Is BMI flawed? Yes, but for the MAJORITY of people it serves its purpose. I think people getting outraged about this are taking their education and healthcare access for granted. When I was young, our school screened us for scoliosis, eyesight, hearing impairment. Why? Because if they are not identified at a young age, these problems can cause significant harm later on. Obesity is the same way. And it might surprise you how many people are unaware that their child is obese. "Oh he's a growing boy...he just can't stop eating (McDonalds)". "Oh, that's just baby fat...it will go away!" Kids are starting to develop type TWO diabetes! That is a LIFELONG problem!


And as I said, this is just a screening so of course some kids are going to get letters who aren't unhealthy (that's basically the definition of a good screening). If it can prevent one child from a dying a premature death because his parents weren't aware he was obese, that's enough for me.

Calling it a "fat letter" is ridiculous. It's a health screening. Wouldn't you want to know if your child was at risk for a lifelong problem? It's no different than the previous screens I spoke about earlier.
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By cthompson1474member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sat Mar 02, 2013 06:16 PM
Just a side note related to ballet girl's comment. I work in elementary schools as a second job and most of them only have a 20 minute recess once a week. They also get that taken away if they have any incomplete work or behavior issues.

And given that schedule of course they will have behavior issues they have no outlet. I have to follow rules set by the schools but literally cringe every day when I see the schedules.

Health screening is more appropriate then "fat letters". Would a letter sent home saying your child is behind and needs tutoring be called "stupid letters." People are overreacting IMO.
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By KeepOnSinginPremium member
On Sat Mar 02, 2013 06:26 PM
20 minute recess once a week?? WOW...that's INSANE! I thought my younger siblings having 20 minute for recess every day was bad!
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By cthompson1474member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sat Mar 02, 2013 06:57 PM
KeepOnSingin wrote:

20 minute recess once a week?? WOW...that's INSANE! I thought my younger siblings having 20 minute for recess every day was bad!


Yeah. They do get gym every other day but it doesn't add up to much. A lot of times they will sacrifice the physical activities to give tutoring, make up tests, and as punishment. I feel bad for the kids in these situations.
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents (karma: 1)
By Theresamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Mar 02, 2013 07:12 PM
But you have to remember that this isn't something you can make some broad, sweeping statement about - because for every kid who is overweight, that the parents probably do need a note about, you get kids like my kid. My six year old is underweight, and has repeatedly and clearly expressed a fear of getting fat, a disgust with fat characters he sees on TV (Fat Monica from Friends was particularly appalling) - although thankfully, he's had the sense to not express similar sentiments in public. We've even caught him dabbling in both binging and restrictive behaviors. And trust when I tell you, I'm always in close contact with the pediatrician about this stuff.

At any rate, if I got a note home that mandated that they had to stop everything they were doing so that they could exercise because some random in his class was overweight, I'd be pretty upset for a few reasons - number one, without pretty close contact with his pediatrician, no one is going to mandate that my kid exercise. He's got a pretty fragile hold on a positive self-image, and demanding that he exercise because "someone" is overweight just has "trigger" written on it in massive, blinking neon letters. It's hardly the schools job to give my kid an eating disorder - he's teatering on the line anyway, I need help getting him away from the line, not pushing him over!

And second - that's not their jobs! They're not personal trainers! At least three days out of the week, my son brings home papers that aren't completed, because they ran out of time to finish them, because they had to go on to the next thing to do. In a school system that is as test driven as the US is, and in a country that's intellectually falling behind as fast as the US is, there simply isn't enough time to go "Ok, we have to stop everything we're doing, people have to go outside..." My son went to kindergarten last year with a kid that, by the end of the year, couldn't write his own name (he's got one kid in his class this year that isn't doing much better). If I were either of those parents and was told that my kid had fallen through the cracks that badly because there was an overweight kid in their class and they had to go outside, I'd be irate.

My son gets 25 minutes of recess a day, and an extra 45 minutes of exercise on Monday and Friday when they do gym, and that's plenty for the school to be responsible for. After that, they need to be concentrating on teaching him the things he needs to be a successful 7 year old. Not how to do a proper push up.
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By cthompson1474member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sat Mar 02, 2013 07:17 PM
^. It's that attitude that pushes creativity out of school. That particular attitude is the reason some schools all the way up to the college level are getting rid of fine arts and sports, dance included, because they "should be teaching academics."

Your child seems to be getting enough however not all schools follow the same schedule.

I also think they can figure out a more appropriate way to get the exercise in that won't cause some students to be pushed too far on the other side of things such as eating disorders.
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By Theresamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Mar 02, 2013 07:31 PM
^I'm happy that they've got what they've got, and I'd fight them if any of it got taken away (they do two days of gym, two days of music and one day of art), but I'd also question increasing any of that too. Unless he's going to a performing arts school (and not that he might not someday, but he isn't currently...), an hour and a half of music a week is plenty. If I pursued him taking music lessons after school, he wouldn't be in more than an hour and a half a week at his age.
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By balletgirl4ever
On Sat Mar 02, 2013 12:59 PM
Edited by balletgirl4ever (252388) on 2013-03-02 13:00:44 sorry didn't see your post about, 1st paragraph doesn't matter then :)
Edited by balletgirl4ever (252388) on 2013-03-02 13:05:50 sorry didn't see your post about, 1st paragraph doesn't matter then :)
Well Threasa your child is getting the amount of exercise I recommended anyway - 1.30hrs but spread over two days a week instead of two. Are you saying that this should be reduced for you child?

I just suggested a way so that children could get the minimum amount of exercise at least 3 days a week, which currently most don't get. The reason why it would be introduced is not because of the obese children in the class, but to keep all children physically and mentally healthy by exercising. Sure it helps reduce the weight of the obese children, but it will benefit all the children. So therefore it would not be introduced because some kids are fat, it would be introduced to give kids half of the amount of exercise that doctors recommend.

I agree that it is terrible that the child by the end of junior infants couldn't write his own name, but surely there was enough time in the whole year (26 weeks) to teach a child 26 letters of the alphabet. 1 letter a week learnt isn't much to ask. If the child was that badly behind why didn't the parents teach him a few letters at home or something? It also raises an issue of class sizes, less people=more personal attention.

Also what is recess? I don't understand is it lunchtime, or P.E/Exercise or what?
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents (karma: 1)
By kandykanePremium member
On Sat Mar 02, 2013 01:13 PM
Edited by kandykane (157761) on 2013-03-02 13:16:32
Recess is outdoor playtime, weather permitting for 20 to 30 minutes. Most schools have playground equipment such as jungle gyms for the kids to climb on or they can run around the playground, take a walk within the fence lines, play with balls, etc. It's free playtime. They have recess every day, the youngest grades have recess twice a day. If it's raining our kids go to the gym or have an extra art time.

The focus should be on getting the crap out of the lunch menu. Don't send a letter lecturing me about my kid's weight and then offer the kids french fries and pizza for their lunches.

kk~
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By balletgirl4ever
On Sat Mar 02, 2013 08:17 PM
Thanks :) I thought it was like lunchtime. So do you get that, and then you get to go outside to eat lunch too? That sounds great we don't have that here. We're just put outside to eat lunch and we can run around and whatnot. Very few schools have climbing frames.
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By cthompson1474member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sat Mar 02, 2013 04:05 PM
Edited by cthompson1474 (249884) on 2013-03-02 16:07:07
Edited by cthompson1474 (249884) on 2013-03-02 16:08:02
Where I am lunch is served inside and students must stand in line, get their lunch, and stay seated. This is elementary and middle school. High school students may walk around common areas outside or sit in the cafeteria.

I think the key here is balance. I don't believe it is the schools job to purely teach academics. In my opinion they should be teaching life lessons and life skills. Some of these skills include teaching students how to incorporate physical exercise into their daily life. Another skill that should be taught is the proper way to read a nutrition label, plan a meal, even cook (I took a cooking class in school). I don't see how anyone can consider these things a waste of time. These skills shouldn't be looked at as a punishment for the skinny. That is a bizarre way of looking at things. These are skills that can benefit the skinny and underweight as well.

One of the issues with public school is that they are killing creativity and ignoring life skills and only focusing on "academics" or more commonly, the test. Life doesn't happen in terms of true/false, right/wrong, ect.

I don't see why the kids have to know anything about the results of their health screening. Results can easily be discussed during parent teacher conferences where parents can be provided resources on nutrition and exercise. With letters it's too risky that kids will read them and get offended or even teased by other students who know what the letters mean. That would also prevent children who do not need to lose weight from getting an unhealthy obsession regarding weight loss.
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By xBallet_babex
On Sun Mar 03, 2013 12:28 AM
I don't get it. People KNOW when they are fat and they KNOW when their kid are fat. How can you not notice? This is rude, but people have a right to be fat just like they have the right to smoke a pack a day and drink a 12 pack of beer if its not affecting anyone else. If the kid are obese, it's more than just what they are eating at school or that their recess is short, odds are the life style at home is large portion of it. What parent is REALLY going to change their whole lifestyle for the family based on a letter from the school? If they cared, the kids probably wouldn't be obese in the first place, right? I'm sure pediatrician's commented on it every time the kid was at the doctor and didn't work either. This is just seems like a great way for kids to get mocked! I hope at they send letters home with ALL the kids and not just the obese ones so it's not obvious that it's "fat letters."

I agree 100% that people need to be more active and try to cut out the junk food, but sending a letter home isn't going to do it. How many times do we post it about other issues? "People don't change unless they want to." There is more information at people's fingertips than EVER before and it's common knowledge being overweight means increased risks for health problems and people are still obese. We can't even PRETEND it's about being uninformed because there are ads, news articles, magazine articles, apps, books, etc all over the place talking about this and it's not getting any better. People change their diet and exercise habits when they WANT to. Overly regulating it isn't the answer because when has that ever worked on anything? I don't know what the answer is, but you can't force people to change or adopt healthy habits.
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By KeepOnSinginPremium member
On Sun Mar 03, 2013 01:08 AM
In a lot of areas, they are striving to make school lunches healthier.

I know my school district certainly is. They got rid of French fries (and variations of them like tater tots) years ago...my 8th grade year I believe. They now also offer 2-3 vegetables every day as well, along with 2-3 fruits. And according to my siblings (I just asked), they have to get a fruit/vegetable every day with lunch. And things like pizza are specials that only happen every so often. Gym time is lacking though. They only have gym 2x a week for about a half hour each time according to my brother.

I also was watching Chopped on Food Network the other day, and all the competitors were school lunch ladies, and every one of them was from a different part of the country, and all of the districts they worked in had similar lunches and policies as my home school district.
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By balletomane0606
On Sun Mar 03, 2013 01:20 AM
I honestly think that one of the worst factors is the lowering of the kids' self-esteem.

<3 Balletomane0606
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By dancerchick012member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sat Mar 02, 2013 07:04 PM
Edited by dancerchick012 (91320) on 2013-03-02 19:07:20
It's pretty fascinating seeing how different each school/region is with regards to recess/lunch/gym classes.
I'm in Canada, on the West coast, and I remember in Elementary school we had P.E. class twice times a week for about an hour. We'd go to the gym, change into our gym strip and spend at least fourty minutes doing some combination of running laps, playing dodgeball/basketball/soccer/etc., or some version of tag. When we got into the older grades we did track and field stuff as well. Sometimes it was the worst hour of my day :P And we used to get a 15 minute break for recess, and 45 minutes for lunch, for 30 of which we were *forced* outside (unless it was raining hard). We were responsible for bringing our own packed lunch, too. Occasionally the school would provide "hot lunch" orders as a special treat (usually near holidays, and on Sports Day).
/hijack

Reading the article, I don't see a thing wrong with what they are doing. It said that "letters also get sent home to notify parents that a student is underweight, or at a healthy weight," so it seems like everyone gets a letter, therefore not singling out any of the supposedly "obese" kids. And it doesn't sound like the letters are particularly incendiary, they just recommend consulting a pediatrician. I'm not sure how effective they are, to be honest, because parents who are aware of their children's health would probably be taking their kid in for checkups yearly, and parents who aren't already probably wouldn't start. But like if they manage to make a couple of parents who otherwise might not have thought about it go oh, uh okay let's see what we can do, then I think it's worth it. And the parents apparently can opt their child out, so if there is a health concern and the parents are already dealing with it then they don't have to keep receiving the letters every year.
So I really don't see what the controversy is.
Those ads from Georgia mentioned in the article, on the other hand...
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By Kekoamember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sun Mar 03, 2013 02:06 AM
I think it really depends on how they word it. Is it a generic, basic info sheet about BMI? Like, "this is what BMI is, this is the scale, this is a list of potential exceptions and here are resources on healthy eating for underweight, average weight and overweight children", with the kid's BMI penciled in? Because if it is something like that, and every kid gets the exact same letter to bring home, I don't think it's necessarily a big deal. In elementary school, we had weight, eye, hearing and lice checks twice a year. We never saw the numbers or anything, they just got written down and sent to our parents.

Obesity is such a complex issue that this obviously won't fix it. It may help a little though, if all parents are pointed in the direction of free resources on healthy eating. Ultimately though, until we make improvements to social welfare programs and end food droughts/deserts (forget the proper term), it's not going to happen.
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By Josianemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sun Mar 03, 2013 02:52 AM
This is rude, but people have a right to be fat just like they have the right to smoke a pack a day and drink a 12 pack of beer if its not affecting anyone else.
I would agree with you if I lived in the US. Unfortunately, where I live, 30% of our budget goes towards the health care system. Almost as much as smoking if I remember correctly. So I'd love to see them have more physical education classes. Health classes would be great too. In my last year of high school, there was a half hour period of health class where we would cover subjects like nutrition, calorie intake, etc. They were really helpful.
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By CaffeinePremium member
On Sun Mar 03, 2013 11:38 PM
When I was at school, we had weekly weigh-ins in PE class. (PE was 90 minutes every Friday, for those comparing school policies, and we had 15 min recess and 45 minutes lunchtime every day, when we were shoo-ed outdoors unless it was raining. And there was no cafeteria, we brought our own food every day). That weekly weigh-in was one of the more humiliating aspects of high school: lining up in the hall and getting weighed one by one. It was officially confidential, but the numbers were jotted down on a clipboard beside the scales, so everyone knew what everyone else weighed. Oh the fun comparing weights, not taking into account height, body shape, muscle and the rest.

These fat letters are just going to humiliate kids further - if they're not already being picked on for their weight. Surely if there is a concern about the child's health, it would be better to bring up in a parent-teacher interview, not in a letter that will most likely get thrown out? Teach the kids about healthy nutrition. If meals are provided in schools, provide something decent, not cheap, nasty processed junk. But don't humiliate or trigger the kids.
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By Amyliamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sun Mar 03, 2013 11:47 PM
I'm an elementary school assistant teacher. My students have 30 minutes of recess every day, give or take 5 minutes (if it is nice out I keep them outside a few extra minutes). They have PE twice a week for 40 minutes. This is the same for all the kids in my school (3yrs-5th grade).
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By LlamaLlamaDuckmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sun Mar 03, 2013 11:47 PM
Here the kids bring their own lunch. So its up to the parents.

I absolutely despised gym at school because I loathe participating in most sports and if they had forced me to I would have rebelled even more.

I was mad that my required gym credits for highschool was extended over 2 years because of the even more stupid relgious education j had to take. I dropped gym as soon as I got the chance. If gym wasn't as sports intensive as it is maybe some more students would be interested.

I don't agree with the letters either.
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents (karma: 2)
By AlwaysOnStagePremium member
On Mon Mar 04, 2013 12:09 AM
xBallet_babex wrote:

I don't get it. People KNOW when they are fat and they KNOW when their kid are fat. How can you not notice?


But some people really, really don't. I have a student whose parents truly don't think that she's overweight. It is probably because that her family, by comparison, is so much MORE than overweight, that in comparison she is the healthiest weight of the bunch. Some people just don't know because of their own gaping holes in health understanding, or are in denial.

I'm still thinking about what I think about the issue as a whole, but I wanted to chime in and say some parents really DON"T see it...I know several parents like that myself.
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