Some Arizona schools are going to be weighing and measuring students — and sending notes home to the parents of those who are overweight.
According to an editorial in the Arizona Daily Star,
Beginning this fall the[Flagstaff school] district will measure and weigh elementary-school children and send letters to parents whose children are overweight or heading that way....we'd like to see the Flagstaff schools' program expanded statewide. Obesity is a public-health problem of monumental proportions (and no, the pun isn't intended) in this state and nationwide.
While it's true that a high number of children in Arizona are obese — 31% — and this is a real issue, this treatment thereof immediately sets off alarm bells. "Measuring and weighing" doesn't seem like a comprehensive mode of measuring a child's health — and the "note" element seems both ineffectual and potentially stigmatizing for those children. The bigger question becomes, is this the school's job? A school has a duty to protect students from contagion — say, flu or lice — and an obligation to provide healthy food options. But beyond this, the question gets dicey — and more to the point, will parents welcome the intervention? This seems like a doctor's purview. Immunization and certificates of health are necessary to start most school terms; if weight is a concern, surely a routine physical could be mandated too — placing the question of a child's health in a doctor's qualified hands. And no one could object, surely, to a school teaching kids about nutrition — that, after all, falls under "Education." But judging solely by size and weight sets a doubtful precedent.
Child Obesity Has Real Health Consequences [Arizona Daily Star]