PITTSBURGH — In the spring, Pittsburgh city schools sent letters out to parents to show them the results of the health tests done on the children, but one parent is voicing opposition to the program.
A spokeswoman for the city school district said they’re simply doing what the state legislators said every school in the state should do, give parents a heads up about their child’s body mass index, or BMI.
“I call them fat letters,” said angry mother Barb Phelps.
Phelp’s has two daughters. One is in kindergarten and the other is in second grade.
“She’s not fat, but the letter says she’s fat ,” Phelps said.
The letter sent home by the city’s schools said the growth-screening program helps determine if a child is healthy, overweight or underweight or at risk of becoming either.
Phelps said her letter indicated her active 7- and 9-year-old daughters were overweight.
“My 7-year-old wants to eat reduced-fat Wheat Thins now,” said Phelps.
“I’m concerned about the whole way this is going to affect, especially, the older kids. Children have such a self-esteem problem. They’re always weight-conscious as it is.”
The Pennsylvania growth-screening mandate requires school nurses to record students’ BMI to help assess the growth of children.
Overweight children have an increased risk for developing diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. Underweight children run the risk of heart problems and anemia, while a child in either category runs the risk of having an eating disorder.
“This is an issue between parents and their doctors,” said Phelps.
“This is not an issue for the school.”A spokesperson for the Pittsburgh school district said if anyone has an issue with the growth-screening program, they should take it up with the state lawmakers, because they’re the ones who put the plan in place.