Do Body Mass Index Tests Go Too Far?

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Some parents are outraged over their children being sent home with letters telling them they are overweight and not just here in Arkansas.

Schools are required to give the test called the Body Mass Index (BMI), to show if a child is obese or underweight so parents can take proactive measures. A BMI test measures height to weight.

Mom Kimberly Nicholson says her son Landon, who weighed 20 pounds at six months of age, was cute and cuddly. 

"He was a chunky monkey," she says.

While Landon's mom says his pediatrician described him as growing healthy when he entered elementary school in Conway, a BMI test called him overweight.

"It just really upset him. He thought he was fat," Nicholson recalls.

She says Landon was given a letter unsealed that he was supposed to bring home to her, he did, but not before reading it himself.

It's a scenario playing out in other states. In New York, one little girl who is 4'1" tall and weighs 66 pounds was told she was overweight according to her BMI. Her mom says it prompted her daughter to ask if she was fat.

Kimberly says Landon asked the same question.

"It bothered him really, really bad," she says.

Deborah Roush with the Pulaski County Special School District says she can only speak on her district, and it's by law they give the BMI test, but they're careful.

"We weigh our students so that our students are not looking at their weight," explains Roush.

They place the letter in an envelope, seal it and address it to the parent.

"Our nurses in the school are very careful about being protective of that student's information, to make them feel as confident as possible," she says further.

Kimberly says she wants her son, now in middle school, healthy as well, but says now he seems obsessed with working out, which in her mind may not be good for his well being.

"If they stress on it too much it gives them a complex," she says.

A complex of being fat, that Kimberly says clearly her son Landon is not.

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