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Schools Shaming Students: Should schools offer BMI screening?
SPRINGBORO, Ohio (Angenette Levy) -- Maddy Karimi and Bailey Webber became best friends after Maddy received a letter from her school detailing her body mass index.
Maddy said, "It was addressed to me. It said 'To Madelyn Karimi' so I opened it up and I read it and it said that I was overweight for my age."
Maddy's school sent the letter in 2011 when the state of Ohio required schools to conduct BMI screenings. She was so upset by it that she ripped it to shreds. Maddy runs track and eats a healthy diet. The letter made Maddy's mom particularly angry since Maddy has struggled with her weight because of a hormone growth deficiency.
Maddy's mother, Nikki Karimi, told Local 12's Angenette Levy, "To a point I understand. I mean we do have a childhood obesity problem in the United States. I don't know that it's their place to do it."
BMI screening in schools and the so-called "fat letters" are controversial. Maddy's experience inspired fellow Springboro student, Bailey Webber. Bailey and her father, documentary filmmaker Mike Webber, have investigated schools performing BMI testing for the film, "The Student Body." Bailey interviews legislators asking whether the government and schools should be involved in the screening.
"I hope to expose this topic and really question are we doing something that's right and is it helping the obesity problem," said Webber. She added, "And sadly what I found is it is not only not helping the obesity problem, it's creating a negative psychological affect on our youth."
The state no longer requires students to step on the scale. Some school districts still give parents the option of having their kids screened. But a Springboro School spokeswoman says the district doesn't believe in BMI testing. While some health professionals think the screening is a good thing.
Dr. Bob Siegel is the Director of the Center for Better Health and Nutrition at Children's Hospital.
"BMI screening I think is a good idea. It can be done in several settings," Dr. Siegel said.
He said he occasionally sees children who are athletic who have high BMI, but it's not typical. Doctor Siegel believes schools should offer the screening.
"Having it done in the schools can really do a lot in my opinion in helping to identify kids and their families that might benefit from attacking this problem," said Dr. Siegel.
Bailey Webber has ensured that something positive came out of something that hurt her friend. They have a friendship and a film that will last for years to come as the debate over BMI screening continues.
"Through this documentary I've learned so much about this debate," said Bailey Webber.
Maddy Karimi added, "It was really comforting, this whole experience. It just brought a positive light to it."
To learn more about "The Student Body" film click here.
At least 17 states mandate or recommend schools conduct BMI screening.
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