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Oklahoma state lawmaker wants schoolkids to be weighed

BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Modified: November 19, 2008 at 4:23 am •  Published: November 19, 2008

/> "If they’re malnourished in some way, that is some form of abuse,” Morrissette said.

"This is not meant to be punitive; it’s meant to help children,” he added.

Not the first state

About 11 states are performing body mass index checks and related health programs, he said.

Some opposition developed in those states from parents concerned that collecting height and weight data violates the children’s privacy and intrudes into long-held cultural practices.

Morrissette said his legislation would focus on children’s nutrition, not how they appear, saying the shape of someone’s body has little to do with general health.

The intent of his legislation is to educate parents and to bring about opportunities for better health for children who aren’t eating the right kinds of food, he said.

"Oklahoma ranks 45th for overall health,” Morrissette said.

"This is not a physical fitness proposal, nor is it a mandate on personal body type. It is a nutrition bill with a near-zero fiscal impact that has the potential to improve every aspect of life in Oklahoma, as children need to learn at an early age the importance of eating healthy.”


Federal guidelines

According to guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, body mass index measurement programs should adhere to these safeguards in order to reduce the risk of harming students:

• Introduce the program to school staff and community members and obtain parental consent.

• Train staff to administer the effort.

• Establish safeguards to protect privacy for students participating.

• Obtain and use accurate equipment.

• Accurately calculate and interpret the data.

• Develop efficient data collection procedures.

• Avoid using BMI results to evaluate student or teacher performance.

• Regularly evaluate the program and its outcomes and consequences.


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