Thursday, April 19, 2012

Project Weightless

Did you know that in some states, public schools have begun weighing and measuring kids and reporting their BMI results? Often, because of time and facility limitations, these weigh-ins are public.

A group at my University called Women for Change is running a campaign to protest this idea, and among other things, created a video of a scale-smashing event they held this spring.

Obviously, trying to combat childhood obesity is a good thing-- but I can only imagine how a public weigh-in would influence the self-worth and body image of a middle or high school student.

As writers, parents, teachers, individuals... what do you think about this?


  1. Ugh, I feel very strongly about this. I still remember an elementary school weigh-in as a kid. We all lined up in the gym and hopped on scales in front of the nurses, who recorded our heights and weights. While I still probably average in size, I was bigger than my very slender friends and extremely self-conscious--I think I even started crying afterward because I was embarrassed to have a higher number and felt ashamed and abnormal.
    It was probably important for me to start healthy eating habits at that age and to get plenty of exercise--which my parents and pediatrician encouraged already, in a way that emphasized good health over appearance. But I think it's a terrible idea to weigh kids at school--it's virtually impossible to handle that in a respectful and sensitive way.

  2. I have never even heard about this before. It's absolutely terrible! I agree that childhood obesity is a problem, but so are issues that stem from poor body image (anorexia, bulimia, body dysmorphic disorder...). What in heaven's name are these people thinking? Clearly they're not.

  3. I've never heard of this awful. I get that childhood obesity is a problem but public embarrassment is not a solution.

    Way to go, fighting this!

  4. I'm reminded of that scene in Judy Blume's Blubber where the kids get weighed and Blubber gets teased. That was written in the 70's. Haven't we gotten past this by now?

  5. What a horrible idea! I was an overweight child myself, and the idea of a public weigh-in infuriates me. Bad enough to endure the name-calling and getting picked last in sports without adding this insult!

    I lost the weight in my first year of university, and kept it off until I had children. Even after having my kids, I was 'okay'. A couple of years ago I gained 7 pounds, though, so this year I've fought really hard to lose it (and have lost over 15 pounds now). Part of that involved posting my numbers on a daily Sparkpeople Blog, but that was my choice. What these people are doing is a violation of the rights of others.

  6. Rebecca, an excellent comment "it's virtually impossible to handle this in a respectful and sensitive way". So true.

    I agree totally Jaime. I can't imagine a worse way to address the issue.

    Jennifer- :0) I was not a part of the group that made the video, so I can't take any credit for it-- but they do incredible work every year. It's an amazing group.

    No kidding, Angie. Yes, 1974. You'd think we'd have learned something since then, but the evidence points to the contrary.

    Susan- I think that's an important distinction-- for some people, the "numbers" around weight can be approached in a healthy way. If it works for you, and it's your choice, that's a different matter. :0)

  7. I think that is awful. You can't shame a child into losing weight. But what you can do—and what you will do if you publicly humiliate them like that—is set them up for a lifetime of self-esteem and body image issues. Ugh. That makes me angry.

  8. I hadn't heard of this, but boy does the idea make me angry. Like pretty much everyone else has said, all it's going to do is cause unnecessary self-esteem issues and plain old meanness from kids. Good for your university for stepping up and saying something about it.

  9. I can't believe anyone in their right mind would even consider something like this. Ridiculous. And cruel.

  10. Whaaaat?! This is the most ridiculous thing I have heard in a long time. Why would anybody think this is a good idea? It's bad enough that schools think they need to do these weigh ins, but to make the results--and the weigh-ins themselves--PUBLIC? No. No no no no no. Can you tell I'm a little miffed about this?

    If schools want to do their part to help kids be healthier, they need to stick with healthy lunch choices and quality physical education.

  11. Seconding Meredith, shaming kids into trying to lose weight? Really not the way to go about it. Hasn't the media and every diet/weight loss/cosmetic surgery ad been doing for this years now? That seems to be working super well. /sarcasm

    Plus weighing kids doesn't differentiate between being overweight due to muscle mass vs. fat, and it certainly doesn't account for actual health. Some poor kid who is healthy at their natural weight that happens to have the 'wrong' BMI is going to get picked on because the school made what should be a personal topic into a social one. Jeez.

    Sometimes I forget how much better I have it being fat in the UK than in the US. This is just really disheartening on so many levels.

  12. This makes me angry too, Meredith. Your comments are spot on.

    Exactly, Connie- well said.

    Jess-- so many good points. I considered school lunch for my son when he began kindergarten last year. You wouldn't believe the menu if I showed you. SO MUCH fried food and heavy meat and carb-based meals. We couldn't sign up for them in good conscience. Luckily our school got a grant that provides fresh fruit all the time, but still.

    Sophia- great comments. Actual health isn't a part of the discussion, and that's a shame.

  13. Yes, I feel very much the same as Rebecca. My bestie is a pediatrician and one of my favorite things about her is how she works with kids to "grow into their weight" as opposed to losing weight. She encourages healthy eating and exercise, but will meet kids wherever they are (do you play video games? how about doing wii fit?)

    Good post.

  14. Nice Christa- It's reassuring to hear that there are doctor's out there who "get" it. :0)


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