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This Mother's Reaction to Her Son's Fit of Anger Can Teach Us All a Lesson in Parenting

Massachusetts Parents Fighting "Fat Letters"

Massachusetts Parents Fighting "Fat Letters"

How would you react if you received a letter from your child's school informing you that your child was obese?

With as many as 18% of kids between the ages of 6 and 11 falling into that category and a state policy requiring schools to measure kids and notify their parents, many families in North Andover, Mass., were recently on the receiving end of such a letter. One set of parents, Tracy and Matt Watson, were so outraged to have their athletic son labeled as obese that they convinced state Rep. Jim Lyons to propose an end to the letters. They say that their fourth-grader's bulk comes from muscle, not fat, and that the Department of Health's standard of measurement, body mass index (BMI), is flawed.

Read the whole story (Huffington Post) >>

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BarbaraTurner82515 BarbaraTurner82515 4 years
I'm gonna just come right out and say this: I'd tell 'em to mind their own D----D business. period. I was heavy in school and I actually come from a family who is short and stout. I'd love to have seen them do this back when I was in school!
TracyAlwardtDonahue TracyAlwardtDonahue 4 years
@ Melissa - I have to say I disagree with your statement that there is no such thing as 'big boned'. Although the term is a bit over used, many children are genetically pre disposed to being more muscular or built to carry their weight differently than their peers. Here are just a few recent studies that support that:
MelissaCrippen MelissaCrippen 4 years
@Vareens- I never said they should micro manage anyone and I totally agree they shouldn't control what size drinks we can and cannot'll never get an argument from me there. I just wonder why people get so offended by the letters? If YOU know there is no problem with your child's weight why do you give it a thought?The school may not have a legitimate place to say such a thing, ( 17% of the kids in the US are obese or overweight) but if it is a concern why is it a bad thing to be told about it? Too many kids are glued to these stupid electronic devices and the only "physical activity" they get is gym class, which by the way is usually a joke and it's only 30 minutes and not every day! my son says he only has gym 2 days a week at his school. Kids are supposed to get AT LEAST an hour of physical activity a day. I've never said anything negative about my kids weight and they know they are healthy and one letter from the school wouldn't damage their self esteem because we would explain to them what it meant and why it was sent. (Oh and there is no such thing as big boned)
GayleBrown26018 GayleBrown26018 4 years
We got one of those letters for my daughter. She'd just recently had her physical, and she was in the acceptable weight range. She's just a little above average weight, but is growing like a weed, so it'll all even out fine because I severely restrict her junk food intake. It was something I'd already addressed with her doctor. So in our case, the letter was null. I didn't even waste any time looking into where the school nurse found the time to weigh my daughter. There's no way they could have done a comprehensive look at her lifestyle, her activity, etc. just speaking with her alone, she was only 6 at the time. If it was just on appearances, age and weight, that would explain the generic letter. I do agree they should stop the letters. They are not needed, whether a kid is overweight or not. They already have compulsory annual physicals. If a pediatrician is not already alerting parents to their child being obese during the annual physical, there's a problem there. If a pediatrician tells a parent their child is obese, and they aren't working to combat that at home and keep their child healthy, then shame on the parents. Then the mandatory reporting laws that schools are required to follow may apply if your child appears to be in true danger due to poor health, to investigate if it's a case of neglect.
TracyAlwardtDonahue TracyAlwardtDonahue 4 years
I have to disagree with those who see no issue with these letters going home. First of my son @ 14 was sent home with one of these letters and a demand that we go see a doctor and get a letter stating we did so. My son plays soccer on three different teams and is in soccer camps during the "off" season ... he has a six pack and is incredibly muscular. We did not have insurance at the time so we had to pay for a doctors visit where the doctor actually laughed, out loud, at the letter and then showed us how they use a BMI chart and that alone to determine if a child is obese. He explained that he would write the letter and also note that while BMI is a good starting point for consideration of someones obesity status but not a definitive indicator. Using common sense and your own ability to see a child's body shape/ size in relation to those of their peers in the proper weight group should be part of the determining factor. My husband wanted to ask the school to pay for the required doctors visit but I talked him down from it. On another, related, note - my daughter IS obese by all those criteria and her doctor has been working with us, her rheumatologist, a nutritionist and a psychologist to help find ways to assist her in reaching a healthier weight without unnecessary pressure to do so. She NEVER received a letter from the nurses office (at the same school) and actually was a child that would have been applicable for one. Go figure
JosephineDeck JosephineDeck 4 years
I don't think it is outrageous at all. With the obesity rate being as high as it is in children parents need to be aware of it. Too many parents say "He/She is just big boned". It is up to the parents to control the kids diet and exersise. If the parents are not doing their jobs then they should be told. If a child is heavy from a large muscles and they parent does not believe it is an issue then a quick trip to the doctors to get a second option will not hurt anything. If a child is obese at a young age then it is extremly difficult to control it as an adult.
CherieRennerLongden CherieRennerLongden 4 years
Children have enough pressures growing up and to have schools getting into name calling is outrageous. These officials need to get on with the job of educating. If they want to help with childhood obesity why have gym programs been cancelled? I had gym class all through school. It was a mandatory class. Also why are the lunch programs so filled with junk? Why do schools have pop machines? Change what should be changed in the schools and let parents parent.
VereenaKasten VereenaKasten 4 years
MelissaCrippen - Government officials need to stop micro-managing the lives of people in this nation. It is not their place to determine what size drink or what kind of food people can or can't have.
VereenaKasten VereenaKasten 4 years
Schools need to get back to "educating" kids and stop trying to be a parent or pediatrician. I am getting sick and tired of people in this society putting their noses where they do not belong. Please, mind your own business, unless you are 100% sure a child is being abused, then and only then, can / should you step in.
Lorri-Bond13030234 Lorri-Bond13030234 4 years
My child has received these letters before. Each time I get increasingly frustrated to receive it. My daughter is 5'3, 115 pounds but she is 9. Her daddys side of the family is all tall. He and his 5 brothers are all over 6'4" tall. The tallest being 6'6. My daughter tends to grow wide then shoot up. Between myself and her Pediatrician, we are happy with her weight/height and disregard the notion of being obese. As long as parents keep these kids busy, get them involved in some sort of activity, then let them be. If the school keeps decreasing the number of PE days these kids get, continue with the idea of "quiet playground" (Eye rolling) and refuse to let them go outside on cold days. then the schools need to BUTT OUT. They should concentrate more on education our children, worry about their test scores, making sure they can read, add and subtract. Mind their own business... they have enough to worry about with the low graduation rates.
Belle1177 Belle1177 4 years
And also parents need to step up and be active with the kids. Don't be douche bags and let your kids end up with diabetes at the age of 5. Be smart
Belle1177 Belle1177 4 years
And I would have sent a letter back saying " yeah and your ugly" The person typing and sending out the letters are most likely overweight Yes kids are lazy these days and the don't eat right. They know they are fat so don't make it even worse. Barack and Michelle need to back off. Damn government
Amanda-D Amanda-D 4 years
Obviously the "fat issue " should be determined between the parents and pediatrician. Schools/government do need to back off and focus on curriculum, their employees and safety of the children!
BeFitMom BeFitMom 4 years
Someone got the numbers wrong!!! 4'9" at 97 lbs = 22.5 BMI, which is HEALTHY So the entire premise of the article was based on a falsehood. Who got the numbers wrong, the school, the mom who reported the numbers, or the reporter who wrote the article? BeFit-Mom
MelissaCrippen MelissaCrippen 4 years
I see alot of young kids who are obese and it is sad. I am sure most of them will out grow it...some not until highs school, but It is an important issue and it is the reason why we have all these lovely things like the "fat tax" and why, just recently, here in NY they are trying to ban the sale of supersized sugary drinks. Pretty pointless when people will just buy two or refil it. But that's kind of the point...if you got a letter saying your child was obese but isn't or your child pediatrician hasnt gently mentioned more physical activity or more fruits and vegies, then you shouldn't be offended and give it any thought because they are healthy. If on the other hand you are extremely offended, and maybe the doc mentioned more play time and less sugary junk food, maybe you need to take a step back and maybe think about what they are trying to tell you. Muscle mass doesn't matter if you have 28% body fat on top of it now does it? Seems to me no one wants advice until something is wrong , and by then everyone else is supposed to help fix their problem. They weren't trying to make weight an issue, it was BMI that's not the same thing.
AnnMcWilliams37979 AnnMcWilliams37979 4 years
A waste of school resources. This isn't something schools should be responsible for. Kids already have doctors, and this is a medical issue. Another example of the government crossing the line into people's personal lives.
micheleglass micheleglass 4 years
Its just ridiculous to "
KaraPalczewski KaraPalczewski 4 years
I cannot believe we have allowed weight to become such a sensitive issue that it cannot be addressed. It is not a judgement, it is a MEASURE of someone's health. Now I agree that children should be looked at as a whole (height, weight, etc) and that pediatricians should be the final measure of how healthy your child is. But I do not believe that being so 'hush-hush' about weight is smart, it reinforces the obesity epidemic in this country. School and social situations are harder on overweight children, let alone that it sets them up for a lifetime of struggling with their weight. As a healthcare provider, it is my responsibility to measure someone's health and report on it-not dance around your feelings about your weight issues. We need to build strong children and families that are healthy, and capable of living long and healthy lives. Oh, and also-this is coming from an ex-fat kid.
kirstystarling kirstystarling 4 years
My grandson received one of these letters from Reception Class at school and he was passed as perfectly fit and healthy by our health visitor 4 weeks previous. He is a large framed child desending from a family who are all over 6ft in height, I blame the education authority as they are not allowed to check children for headlice or cleanliness which are the basic things to check for. Leave the weight aspect of life to the childs health visitor and doctor as they should be keeping a check on them at visits.
EliseMillard EliseMillard 4 years
I live in Massachusetts and they sent a letter home with my then 6 year old daughter. I was so angered by the letter I tore it up. My daughter's pediatrician said these letters were a joke. They are going to give these young children a complex before they are old enough to have one,
CindyLaidlaw CindyLaidlaw 4 years
Totally outrageous. A family that is dealing with weight problems does not need a letter from anyone telling them what they already know. It is degrading and insensitive and could have the same effect that bullying would have. I would think that programs designed to help with the problem and any other problem would be added to the regular informational pages that ALL students take home. That way, noone is centered out. Especially when you think about how hard some children find it to have a healthy self-esteem. And, who the heck needs the school to measure a students body?! Ones eyes can see there is a weight issue. Are schools going to be run Nazi style now? What,s next, eyes not the right color, too much hair on the upper lip, clothes are not designer brand, or anything else that does not conform to their standards?! Come on and get back to the three R's.
KasiaMckenzieElphic KasiaMckenzieElphic 4 years
I would realize WE; there is a problem and stop being so darn ignorant. You might not only increase your child's life spam but yours as well.
KerryLeeVine KerryLeeVine 4 years
I am in the UK and also received such a letter from my daughters school. My daughter is 12 yrs old, 5'4" and weighs 65kg. She is a size 36C bra and is classed as obese, when in fact she is absolutely gorgeous (in fact too gorgeous for my liking as she is already attracting the eye of older boys!) So really I think it could be a good idea but it needs refining.
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