Body Mass Index On Report Cards
Presidential hopeful, Gov. Mike Huckabee from Arkansas, developed serious health problems a few years ago. He had to make a decision. Either have major health issues or lose weight—lots of weight. Huckabee lost over 100 pounds and his health improved greatly. He was so pleased and relieved that he wanted the same for all the school children in Arkansas. He presented the Arkansas legislature with a controversial plan. Track the weight of school children.
Four years ago, Arkansas became the first state to track the weight of public school students. Along with the weight tracking, students learned the health issues associated with being overweight. Students learn that they are more likely to develop heart problems, high blood pressure, arthritis and diabetes, if overweight.
Is the BMI Plan Working?
The plan seems to be working. It has caught the attention of parents and students. Some students are making an effort to eat less, eat better food and exercise more.
Some parents are complaining. They maintain that focusing on a child’s weight hurts self-esteem. Others state that being overweight, being limited in activities, and developing health problems is hurting self-esteem.
Schools in Arkansas are also being asked to limit junk food sold in schools. Nationally, schools have been asked to reduce the sales of sodas and many schools have removed pop machines and replaced with water or juice.
Health officials in Arkansas are fearful that the momentum may soon slow down. While the obesity rate in Arkansas has dropped from 38.1 to 37.5, the legislature is considering making the program optional. Reducing the weigh-ins and making it easier to leave the program will reduce the effects. Many think that doing this will destroy the gains made.
When Huckabee began this program, Arkansas ranked third in the nation for obesity. That honor now goes to Alabama with West Virginia placing second and Mississippi placing first. Colorado is the leanest state and Minnesota leads all states for getting exercise. Obesity rates have risen in 31 states and this of great concern to the health care industry.
- Normal BMI—18.5 to 24.9
- Overweight BMI—25 to 30
- Obese BMI—over 30
Economics and BMI
It is not a coincidence that five of the poorest states are in the top ten for obesity. Eating “healthy” costs more. Protein costs more than carbohydrates. Preparing fresh fruit and vegetables is much more time consuming than opening a can. If a family is juggling several jobs to make ends meet, quick meals become more important. Genetics is also a strong factor. A skinny gene has recently been discovered by Yale University.
Other states have considered following the Arkansas Plan. Huckabee began an awareness program that has benefits far into the future.