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Taken from the Yahoo feed:

Screening teens for obesity may not help them lose weight

By Madeline Kennedy (Reuters Health) – Weight screenings in high school were not enough to get overweight and obese kids on track toward a healthier weight, a recent U.S. study found.

Eduhonesty: Duhhh. I guarantee readers that America’s students are almost all aware of their weight and where they stand with regards to the standards set by public media. If knowing my weight was enough to get me to diet, I’d be dieting right now. I’d have been dieting for years probably, and my weight isn’t that far off the acceptable norm, which has a bad habit of changing every so often — just like that pesky food pyramid, which recently demoted wheat. In fact, my BMI is 24.5 — acceptable according to almost all sources. A few years ago, though, my numbers were too high according to my doctor, even though I weighed less than I do now.

I’d like to suggest that districts stop sending home letters to tell parents their children are overweight. I could support a letter that included weight expectations for certain heights and ages with appropriate caveats related to muscle mass and body frame. I could support school nutrition and exercise programs designed to help students learn how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Given America’s growing weight problem, I think this change might be overdue, although the honest truth is that restoring daily P.E. would go a long way toward this goal without any extra layers of instruction. We have gutted P.E. at a time when videogames have taken over as many students’ main afternoon activity.


According to Nielsen, the average U.S. gamer age 13 or older spent 6.3 hours a week playing video games during 2013. That’s up from 5.6 hours in 2012, which was up from 5.1 hours in 2011. In addition, “U.S. console gamers are diversifying the devices they play on, as 50 percent say they also play games on a mobile or tablet device, up from 35 percent in 2011.”

From the New York Times on the topic of P.E.:

Despite Obesity Concerns, Gym Classes Are Cut

More than a half-century ago, President Dwight D. Eisenhower formed the President’s Council on Youth Fitness, and today Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Michelle Obama are among those making childhood obesity a public cause. But even as virtually every state has undertaken significant school reforms, many American students are being granted little or no time in the gym.

In its biennial survey of high school students across the nation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in June that nearly half said they had no physical education classes in an average week. In New York City, that number was 20.5 percent, compared with 14.4 percent a decade earlier, according to the C.D.C.

That echoed findings by New York City’s comptroller, in October, of inadequate physical education at each of the elementary schools that auditors visited. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, found just 20 percent of elementary schools in San Francisco’s system were meeting the state’s requirements: 20 minutes per day.

(I decided 2012 was an acceptable year for a source since, if anything, our problem will be worse today. P.E. time is not increasing while videogame time has been climbing, cutting into outside activities that might help compensate for the ongoing lack of physical instruction.)

Returning to my topic, I object to letters from the nurses office that say “Maria” is overweight. The odds that this letter will result in Maria promptly dieting down to her optimal weight are extremely slim. But like the test scores from inappropriate standardized tests, that weight letter may flatten poor Maria’s already faltering self-esteem. Those letters are more likely to create girls and boys who stick their fingers down their throat while loudly running water in the bathroom than anything else.

To put it simply, shaming seldom works. The emotional fall-out from shaming can be devastating. We can’t change behaviors by sideswiping them with one negative note from the nurse’s office. Until we offer real help to our out-of-shape students, those ham-handed, ineffective letters and studies related to student weight need to stop.