Should Schools Stop Sending 'Fat Letters'?

Some state legislators are moving to ban schools sending home letters to students who score overweight or obese on the Body Mass Index. Are the letters good public health policy, unwanted state intrusion or maybe both?

A recent story on North Andover Patch reignited the debate about whether public schools should send home letters telling parents their child is overweight:

One day last year, North Andover Selectman Tracy Watson received a school letter about her son Cameron. It wasn't about his grades or his behavior. It was to inform her and her husband that Cameron was classified as "obese."

"Honestly, I laughed," Watson said. The letter -- part of a state initiative to monitor children's Body Mass Index -- explained BMI standards and encouraged her and her husband to contact their pediatrician.

But the letters have many in town crying foul and have ignited a debate over the government's role in children's health.

That debate has now flashed nation-wide, as our story was picked up by Fox News, the New York Daily News, reddit and Fark.com.

Parents, have you received a so-called "fat letter" for your child? Do you see the letters as a good public health measure? Or are they a government overreach?

Maybe you distrust the whole idea of BMI, given that by its standards, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is overweight.

Let's discuss it in the comments section.

Janine Largent March 10, 2013 at 02:31 PM
Mike - I agree wholeheartedly. It seems that each government intervention creates a cascade of other issues which require more government to fix it. I have real concerns for the future of this country. Liberty requires responsibility as Benjamin Franklin said: "the constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness; you'll have to catch it yourself".
Mike Mitchell March 10, 2013 at 02:33 PM
Let's see, a whopping 15% of the stay home moms were fatter. You don't suppose that maybe ~some~ of that percentage are mothers who were denied employment on the basis of their weight do you? And what a vile insinuation made by ABC "full-time homemakers who had never held a job" that being a good mother isn't a job? Did this study measure each group as to how happy they were doing what they do? ... probably not.
Mike Mitchell March 10, 2013 at 02:58 PM
Janine, I think the problem could actually be in part the result of the radical left (i.e communists) vilifying mothers who CHOOSE to stay at home and raise their young children. Their attack on motherhood, (the most important and most rewarding job on earth) is making some stay at home mothers feel guilty for being stay at home mothers. Such guilt, though completely unfounded, is causing them anxiety which is eased by eating more comfort food. Foisting "unfounded guilt" and "self doubt" upon people are, not by coincidence, the typical tools of communists - and Satan. Motherhood used to be glorified in this country until commies started their brainwashing agenda to destroy the traditional US family. They are all liars; expose, rebuke and reject them at every opportunity.
Mike Mitchell March 10, 2013 at 06:17 PM
Well Mike it's true that the nurses are just following orders but so was everyone in the Wehrmacht.
Janine Largent March 10, 2013 at 10:44 PM
Mike Mitchell - Nobody will ever love you like your mother loves you. I love my memories of warm, homemade, oatmeal raisin cookies after school. Yum!
Diane Lee March 11, 2013 at 12:33 PM
There is 2 sides to unhealthy weight overweight or underweight. If the governement pushes to hard on the Obese overweight children could they develope and eating disorder which is just has bad as obesity. Which could lead to high health cost as well do to the psychological impact. Lets keep the government out of how I raise my children. How about the schools put more PE into the schools. Poor food choices are not the only cause of Obesity lack of activity is another factor. Educate on the right choices and an active life style.
Janine Largent March 11, 2013 at 02:24 PM
Diane - I agree that obesity is an issue. As you stated though, the issue is complex with a multitude of contributing factors. I do believe that the government has participated in the creation of this and many other social issues we suffer from today with their good intentions. Liberty is the right to abstain from these good intentions for yourself and yes, your children without having to prove anything to an "authority". If the state has reason to believe someone is abusing or neglecting their child then use the appropriate channels to pursue that particular issue. As for the rest of us if we say "no thank you", that should be sufficient. Anything less, dare I say the word is "tyranny".
Mike Mitchell March 11, 2013 at 04:26 PM
Ron, I don't think you could even fix a broken promise. I do not need or expect your help for my health and you should have no reason to expect mine for yours. Politicians, trial lawyers and insurance companies do absolutely NOTHING to cure anyone (except the 'disease' of having a little more of their own money in their wallet). But they are collectively receiving AT LEAST HALF of every dollar we spend on health care as doctors are now retiring early and the best and brightest entering college are having second thoughts about entering into medicine. Great going libs! You're destroying the foundation of what built US medicine - the free market - what built everything else as well.
Carolyn Costain March 11, 2013 at 05:18 PM
Like it or not, we are slowly becoming a Dictatorship, communist State. We are forced to pay high taxes on the home we own. " If we refuse to pay " the Government takes your "so called" private property! When Government tells you what, how and when you should feed your kids? That is having to live by a Dictators rules! People come in all shapes and sizes, Kids go through many changes in their youth, Government is over stepping their bounds! How much more will it take for people to wake up and stand up for there "rights" to property, liberty , freedom, and "Privacy!"
Dave Miskinis March 11, 2013 at 07:48 PM
This just in.....judge invalidates Blooomburg's ban on large sodas! These fat letters will be next.
Dave Miskinis March 11, 2013 at 07:49 PM
Janine, now you can blame the courts for obesity as well.
Janine Largent March 11, 2013 at 09:18 PM
No Dave - The courts have supported the validity of my claim of government over reach. Education is great. Forced submission is oppression.
Mike Mitchell March 11, 2013 at 10:12 PM
I see that Ron Powell has deleted the reply he made to me that went something like "I fixed your comment" by adding that his insurance and tax payments paid for the BP and statin meds. His deleted post is what I had replied to in the comment above. Ok Ron, if you are going to delete your posts I'll just have to remember to start including quotes of your comments along with my response to them which just clutters the board with duplication.
Mike Mitchell March 11, 2013 at 10:15 PM
eh? (Maybe you have the wrong Janine?)
Ron Powell March 11, 2013 at 11:41 PM
I deleted it because I was actually agreeing with you, and for some reason you didn't get that. So I figured, my bad.
Ron Powell March 11, 2013 at 11:43 PM
The point of my comment is that if you are paying for health insurance, you are the one that is paying for their health care. 5 percent of all people account for 50 percent of the health care spending in this country. It's their choice to be unhealthy, and your choice to pay for it. That was my point.
Ron Powell March 11, 2013 at 11:52 PM
One final thought. The issue here is freedom and individual liberty. Parents should have the right to have their children not be weighed and measured. And parents should also have the right to the information that the school is collecting -- just like consumers have a right to know what data is being collected about them. If I company is collecting data about you, and then they tell you what data they have collected, it is quasi-moronic to be outraged, outraged, outraged that they told you the information they collected. This is a completely analogous situation. Parents have a right not to have their children weighed and measured. And they have a right to know what data the school is collecting and how it is being used. You are essentially saying that you have a right to not know. Well, good for you. I would like to know. The problem is that the libertaribots are just as preprogrammed with their canned responses as the progressibots. We should try to think issues through on a deeper level.
Janine Largent March 12, 2013 at 12:12 AM
I think the courts opposing Bloomberg's ban on soda is evidence of the checks and balances in our constitution that counter tyrannical executive decisions. I think I have that right.
Janine Largent March 12, 2013 at 12:40 AM
Ron - Glad to you finally agree this about liberty. And I am even more happy to see you on the right side of liberty. I disagree though that these programs are not an infringement on liberty. If the state wants to collect data then the participants of the study should be fully informed of the study and be volunteers. Our children are a captive audience and the state is surely taking liberties with them. Additionally, with the scliosis checks we parents have received letters which demand we provide personal healthcare information via notices printed with boldly proclaimed capital letters Surely you do not have children in public schools nor, as your ignorance has revealed, are you an authority on the subject. Appreciate your opinion, but that is all it is is an opinion. And rather inconsiderate of citizens with legitimate complaints. Why am I not surprised?
Ron Powell March 12, 2013 at 01:31 AM
For me, this was always an issue about parental rights. I actually do have children in the public school system. Thanks for keeping things not personal. Whelp, I feel like a dog chasing its tail by continually arguing with people who I actually agree with. I'm bored, and I suspect everyone is thoroughly tired of seeing this silly story in his or her news feed.
Michael Quinlan March 12, 2013 at 01:35 AM
Socialism means never having to say you're sorry...
Janine Largent March 12, 2013 at 01:55 AM
Ron - I think individuals can decide for themselves when they are bored with the subject and simply stop following it. You, yourself have had numerous "final thoughts". Yet, you are still here. Truth is Ron, I don't think you know where you stand on the subject. I don't know you, but you sound like a professional politician (or a used car salesman) "I was for it until I was against it". I suspect you believe the the Patch is a good place to get some name recognition. You would fair much better in an argument if stopped trying to play all positions at one time and simply stood up for what you actually believed in (whatever that is)
Mike Mitchell March 12, 2013 at 03:31 AM
Don't you hate it when you write a comment, click submit and THEN find out that you aren't signed in? The sign-in screen appears, you sign-in but when the page reappears - your comment is gone! Everything you typed went into the bit bucket. Hey Patch, fix it. It's simple, write the script so that it does NOT accept text unless the user is signed-in. Have the text box title change to say "Sign-in to leave a comment."
Ron Powell March 12, 2013 at 04:19 AM
Not sure why I'm the target of your personal abuse tonight, Janine, but, um, OK. Was there anything else you wanted to tell me that I'm doing wrong?
Chris Helms (Editor) March 12, 2013 at 10:24 AM
Thanks, Mike. This is Chris Helms at Patch. When it works properly, your comment should be saved, even if you start drafting it before you sign in. It has always worked for me. I have heard of this happening to others, though. You can contact our tech support staff at support@patch.com.
Janine Largent March 12, 2013 at 10:52 AM
Ron - This is a public forum. I have read and considered all of the participants comments. Why would you ignore me? Don't you mean marginalize me? Isn't that the political tactic for negating an opponent who does not agree with you? Rather than argue with reason we "ignore" or as you have done here appear simultaneously to be for and against something.
Janine Largent March 12, 2013 at 09:48 PM
Ron - When you creatively edit and delete your comments it makes it difficult to follow the debate. If you feel strongly enough about something to write it in a public forum you should stand by it or retract it.
Ron Powell March 12, 2013 at 11:01 PM
It's happening to me, too.
lisa P. March 12, 2013 at 11:35 PM
Parents are the ones who are responsible for their kids being overweight. 98% of the time, if you see an overweight child, their parents are too. Stop "Super-sizing" your food and start parenting. When I was young I wasn't allowed a large or super size drink- I was GIVEN a SMALL... and I was only GIVEN dessert if I ate ALL of my supper first. Parents are super-sizing their kids. I am a diet therpist and I see this all the time. The doctors should be getting involved- but only if it is affecting the child in a negative manner. Kids are the meanest humans on earth- especially to other kids, and when that child is overweight, it just makes things worse. Their self esteem goes down and they stop caring abotu how they look and how it affects their health. Other kids tease them and it continues into adulthood. What you GIVE to your child when they are young is what tehy LEARN to eat. Start when they are young and keep both (you and your child) healthy and active) Parents who use their computer or tv as a babysitter tend to be ten times heavier than parents who feed their kids healthy food and who actively participate in sports. We had a little thing called OUTSIDE- it helped us learn, grow and keep healthy. Take their computers and IPADS and throw them out the window. IF not- you will all be carried out to your funerals in piano cases.
lisa P. March 12, 2013 at 11:36 PM
"therapist" sorry spelling police !


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