Will school wellness program that weighs students lead to bullying?

ISSAQUAH — At least one parent in the Issaquah School District is worried that a new program aimed at keeping kids physically fit could lead to bullying.

As part of a new wellness program, the school district is weighing students to calculate their body-mass index, which determines if the children are at a healthy weight. But some families are worried taking measurements like that in school could be unhealthy in other ways.

“We are all so different, we’re all individuals. We’re not all 6-foot runway models,” said Blythe Mercer.

hallwayShe worries bullies in the district could be getting some fresh ammunition because of that program.

“We’re in a district that is known for a high suicide rate and I just don’t want to prick another hole in that balloon,” said Mercer. “I think that’s dangerous, I think we’re playing with fire. I think we need to be so, so careful.”

This fall, the district started measuring and recording students’ body-mass index.  The BMI compares height and weight and if you’re overweight or obese. The lesson plan is designed to give kids tools to be healthy throughout their lives.

Obesity is a problem that Issaquah schools are trying to face head-on.

Lorraine Michelle said the program isn’t meant to single out anybody.

“It’s just one indicator of health,” said Michelle. “As students understand their own fitness level, it helps them set goals and move forward.”

But Mercer worries a BMI number doesn’t paint the whole picture when it comes to healthy bodies, and her kids are worried about being teased.

Mercer loves the idea of teaching kids to be healthy, but saidshe wishes the district would butt-out of the body-mass index.

“It’s not our school’s business. This should be left up to our pediatrician,” said Mercer.

The district said the BMI portion of the new program isn’t mandatory and parents can opt out at any time. Parents could also get their child’s BMI at their doctor’s office.

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5 comments

  • Laurie

    Blythe is right on the mark. It is not the school's business. It should be confidential between the parent, child and their pediatrician. Thanks for bringing this new program to light. I think most parents would not approve of this.

  • Digna

    I agree that this should not be done in schools, but it's not new that's the sad thing. I remember doing this in grade school. they'd weigh us calculate BMI and tells our parents how "healthy" we were. I hated it! I would always lie to the other kids when they would ask cause I didn't want to be made fun of if my number was too different.

  • kinda

    I remember being weighed in grade school and high school. We also had our hearing and vision checked. It was not a big deal. But then again, it was a kinder era that I was raised in. There wasn't the amount of hate and jealousy there is today. We were in school to learn and we did.

  • Incerdulous

    The key is to teach our children that being overweight is not about looks but it is about health. Obesity is now the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the US. I guess some people would rather have their kids die early with their feelings intact, than have them learn what is harmful for them and fix it before it is too late, yes, even if they hurt their feelings a little bit.