There's outrage among some parents who say they're getting letters from their children's schools stating their kids are too fat.
And, it's not just families of kids considered obese receiving letters informing them of their kids body mass index. Parents of the underweight are also getting a visit from the postman, and while some healthcare professionals and some parents welcome this information, others don't.
Brian Anthony R.D. of Sarasota Memorial Hospital said, "I can see the concern with obesity being such an epidemic thing right now that they're really trying to get parents involved with it." He explained, "The body mass index is a good indicator of the amount of fat a person carries on their body, it's a ratio of height to weight put in to a formula that comes up with a number that will put your child in a percentile."
The letters, sent out to grades, 1, 3, 6 and 9 inform parents of children falling far above or below normal levels of their child's BMI numbers, which are based on the size, age and gender of the child.
Although the information is confidential, some including mother of three, Bianca Lawrence say this may not be the best way to get the message out. "If you and your pediatrician have a plan for your child's health and development," she said, "then maybe its not something that the school necessarily needs to be worried about." said Lawrence.
Michelle Kapreillian of Forty Carrots Family Center in Sarasota said, focusing on healthy habits for your children is really how you have to start and sometimes that includes looking at your whole family. "I recognize that the government is probably trying hard to encourage families to teach their children healthy habits, I'm not quite sure that sending a letter home to the families in that way is the best way to go about it."
There may be esteem issues if the child finds they are the recipient of a letter, which could cautioned Kapreillian also lead to other concerns if the information falls into the wrong hands. "If other children know about another child's body mass index that it might be a lot higher or a lot lower than someone else's, it could contribute to some bullying aspects."
Rebecca Lockwood, Preschool Director of Forty Carrots said, "We're not a one size fits all world so children can eat the same thing and it can affect their bodies differently so its really important to focus on healthy lifestyle, healthy choices rather than specifics of weight or what the scale says."
There are options for parents that prefer their child not to participate in the BMI testing, all they have to do is fill out an opt-out letter.