Big Brother Is Watching You and Your Children’s Weight

If you need it, here is another reason to keep your children out of public school: So that they are not spied on and singled out for their weight.

From CNS News:

The Chula Vista school district not only measures the academic progress of Marina Beltran’s second-grader, it also measures her son’s body fat.

Every two years, Antonio Beltran, like his classmates, steps on a scale. Trained district personnel also measure his height and then use the two figures to calculate his body mass index, an indicator of body fat.

The calculation isn’t reported to Beltran or her son, who cannot see the readout on the scale that has a remote display. Instead it’s used by the district to collect local data on children’s weight.

Beltran supports her son’s school in measuring students because the data has brought in help to address obesity, which can lead to diabetes and other illnesses tied to a lifetime of poor habits.

But the practice hasn’t been embraced everywhere.

Other school districts have angered parents and eating disorder groups by conducting screenings to identify overweight children and send home what critics call obesity report cards or “fat letters.”

Amid the nation’s childhood obesity epidemic, schools in nearly a quarter of all states record body mass index scores, measuring hundreds of thousands of students.

Some, like the Chula Vista Elementary School District, do what is known as surveillance, in which students are measured to identify how many are at risk for weight-related health problems but they remain anonymous. Other districts do screenings to track the weight of individual students and notify parents whose children are classified at an unhealthy weight.

Chula Vista is being touted for its methods that have resulted in motivating the community to take action. When nearly 25,000 students were measured in 2010, it discovered about 40 percent of its children were obese or overweight.

So now we get it both in the doctor’s office and in our schools.

Do parents really not know if their children are overweight or obese unless their school informs them?

What happens to those children who get a “fat letter”? Are they told to stop eating so much fat? Perhaps that is changing, but up until very recently people felt like they were being healthy to avoid fat when, in fact, that is a an unhealthy way to eat.

Is it healthy to feel marginalized by society? I doubt it. But that is exactly what these classifications do. Furthermore, as the CNS story points out, they can also trigger a very dangerous reaction: eating disorders.

And what about privacy? What happens when this information gets out to other people or agencies?

Massachusetts in October stopped requiring schools notify parents when a child scores high after receiving reports that the data was not safeguarded enough, “leading to alarm, confusion or embarrassment,” according to the state’s public health department. Parents can request the results.

“The current policies to protect student data are pretty inconsistent and at times woefully inadequate,” said James Steyer, CEO of the San Francisco-based nonprofit Common Sense Media, which reviews technology and children’s privacy.

So some of the most sensitive information about a child or teen is often inadequately protected.

What happened to the traditional American notion that health and wellbeing are the responsibility of the parents and of the child himself?