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'Fat letters' sent home to students cause a stir

massachusetts department of public health obesity body mass index

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#1 Hum

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 15:48

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. (WHDH) -- Schools in North Andover are trying help students dealing with obesity issues, but some families say the schools are going too far.

Cameron Watson, 10, isn't just a strong athlete; he's also a tough fourth grader who didn't let a “fat letter” sent to his home get him down.

“I know I’m not obese so I didn’t really care about the letter. I just crumpled it up,” Cam Watson said.

The letters were sent to plenty of homes throughout the Commonwealth.

The Department of Public Health says 32 percent of our students have a Body Mass Index that shows they're overweight or obese, and the letters are supposed to be a helpful tool for parents.

Cam Watson’s father says they're a waste -- they don't take into account muscle mass.

“No one wants get letter saying they’re obese. That’s a very strong, uncomfortable word, and we didn’t see if fitting with our son who is very active, he’s very strong,” said Matt Watson, Cam’s father.

While Cam Watson continues to wrestle in elite clubs, his mother -- a selectwoman in North Andover -- is working with state representatives to stop these fat letters.

“I don’t think all of a sudden we have to wake up and say that people in Massachusetts need to be told everything to do with their kids whether to feed them a cupcake or to feed them broccoli,” said State Representative Jim Lyons.

For Cam Watson, he says he has the self esteem to overlook a label -- but he's more worried about his friends who might not be as strong.

“I don't like my friends getting their feelings hurt,” Cam Watson said.

The Department of Public Health is also sending letters home to students who are underweight. The department says all families have the option of not having their children screened for their Body Mass Index.

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#2 Aheer.R.S.

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 15:50

but but but, what else are 'thin' people supposed to do with their lives now?

#3 Xilo

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 15:58

but but but, what else are 'thin' people supposed to do with their lives now?

Eat more food. :rofl:

#4 theyarecomingforyou

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 16:01

If there are issues with the accuracy of the tests then they need to be addressed but parents should be informed if their child is overweight or underweight. Too often parents don't realise that they're doing anything wrong, especially if they lead unhealthy lifestyles themselves.

#5 OP Hum

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 16:04

Parents must be some kind of stupid if they don't notice their kids are getting fat.

#6 DocM

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 16:44

The problems are a) the BMI index is a rather poor measure of obesity because it poorly accounts for divergent body types, and b) this kind of letter getting public in the school could toss a lot of girls (and a few boys) into anorexia or bulemia, and they'll kill 'em faster than being overweight.

#7 fusi0n

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 16:52

I see nothing wrong with this. If your kid is a fat ass, your not doing you part as a parent and endangering the physical and mental welfare of the child. Someone should bring it to your attention.

This is only my option. I am sure most will not agree.

And before anyone wants to argue about the mental heath, obese kids usually end up depressed and don't have many friends.

#8 sidroc

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 16:59

The problems are a) the BMI index is a rather poor measure of obesity because it poorly accounts for divergent body types, and b) this kind of letter getting public in the school could toss a lot of girls (and a few boys) into anorexia or bulemia, and they'll kill 'em faster than being overweight.


Good job defending your own health issues their like so many others guilty about their condition. As a healthcare workers, I say this is a good move

#9 Richteralan

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 17:01

Parents must be some kind of stupid if they don't notice their kids are getting fat.

You will be surprised the majority of the parents are indeed stupid.

I see nothing wrong with this. If your kid is a fat ass, your not doing you part as a parent and endangering the physical and mental welfare of the child. Someone should bring it to your attention.

This is only my option. I am sure most will not agree.

And before anyone wants to argue about the mental heath, obese kids usually end up depressed and don't have many friends.

The parents don't wanna hear that. What they want to hear is constant praise of their kids, and political correctness.

#10 Art3x

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 17:40

I enjoyed it talking about a 10 yr olds muscle mass...

Lots of parents are just in denial. I am a teacher, and I see it everyday with weight, grades, drinking etc. Parents are more friend than authority figure and are afraid to hurt their kids feelings.

#11 threetonesun

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 17:46

I enjoyed it talking about a 10 yr olds muscle mass...


Do you even lift, bro? :laugh:

#12 Brandon

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 17:55

Good job defending your own health issues their like so many others guilty about their condition. As a healthcare workers, I say this is a good move


Wow, you are an idiot. I have a BMI that puts me on the verge of overweight, yet I run 70 miles per week and have run a 2:48 marathon. I have a lot of muscle mass and higher bone density than most people. My body fat percentage is 8%, yet according to you I should be "guilty of my condition" due to a high BMI number....

#13 compl3x

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 17:58

If there are issues with the accuracy of the tests then they need to be addressed but parents should be informed if their child is overweight or underweight. Too often parents don't realise that they're doing anything wrong, especially if they lead unhealthy lifestyles themselves.


I agree.

I think there is an entire group of people [parents] who have completely shut their eyes to the risks of excess weight, almost hoping the issue will resolve itself. I appreciate buying fresh foods and cooking home cooked meals is difficult. If you have 2 parents working and much of the income is going to rent/mortgage, car payments etc. not a lot of money is left over, but there has to be some way to encourage your kids to exercise more and eat less garbage.


Maybe subsidise vege and fruit growers? Oh sorry, that is socialism. Keep subsidising the corn and soy growers whose crop goes to making cheap-**** fast food. :rolleyes:

#14 theyarecomingforyou

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 18:10

Maybe subsidise vege and fruit growers? Oh sorry, that is socialism.


That would be my suggestion too. Food and drinks that are unhealthy should be taxed and that money should be used to subsidise healthy food, like fruit and veg. And you're right, it's ridiculous that the US subsidises corn when it is a major contributor to obesity, particularly through HFCS.

#15 JaredFrost

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 18:21

Good job defending your own health issues their like so many others guilty about their condition. As a healthcare workers, I say this is a good move


He's actually 100% correct, the BMI scale doesn't take into account lean body mass, it gives purely by weight, height and gender, that's it.
There is a big different between being overweight and being unhealthy.

You being a healthcare worker, should know this, but then again, maybe you just empty the trash cans. /bazinga!

That said, a lot of people do make excuses, in this kids case, looking at him, he's not unhealthy and regardless I don't think it's the schools business
People that are fat or obese, they know it, it's not some big hidden secret, they need to find the motivation themselves.

EDIT: I should also point out, having a lean, fatless kid isn't a good thing, children require this to grow properly, obviously there is a line when it's too much
but again, that goes back to unhealthy amounts, and still none of the schools business.