BMI Rankings Place Grafton Among Healthiest Districts, Raise Concerns About 'Fat Letters'

In a recent study analyzing data from 254 school districts, Grafton ranked 43rd in the state with the lowest percentage of overweight and obese kids.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, students in the Grafton Public School District rank 43rd among towns with the least overweight and most fit kids.

A story by WCVB lists the top districts.

The DPH keeps data on the percentage of overweight and obese students in each school district. Data used was from Body Mass Screening done in schools in 2009, 2010 and 2011. 

Students in grades 1, 4, 7, and 10, in 254 districts and organizations, were surveyed.

In this study, Grafton had an average BMI of 23.3; this places the district within the top 17 percent of districts in Massachusetts.

BMI values from 18.5 to 24.9 are considered normal, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). A BMI of 25 to 29.9 is regarded as overweight. A BMI of 25 and higher is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

You can calculate your BMI by multiplying your weight in pounds by 703. You divide that number by your height in inches, then divide the result by height in inches, according to livestrong.com.

Experts note that BMI is only one measure of a child's health status, and an elevated BMI can be the result of a student being particularly muscular or other family history factors. It is used as a screening tool, not a diagnostic tool. Therefore, a child with an elevated or underweight BMI would then be evaluated by their physician where other appropriate screenings would take place.

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 Newsreddit 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.

Tell us in the comments.


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