America has an obesity problem and something should be done about this but calling thin girls as fat isn't exactly a good idea.
The mother of nine-year-old Gwendolyn Williams said that her daughter became conscious of herself after learning that the fitnessgram, the fitness report from the New York City Department of Education's annual fitness assessment program, has labeled her as overweight.
The fitnessgram is an individualized assessment report on whether a student is physically fit based on his or her age and gender. Gwendolyn, who stands four feet and one inch tall and weighed 66 pounds, was described as overweight because she was one pound heavier than the average weight for children her age and height.
"My daughter is thin; she knows she doesn't have a weight problem, but that night, I caught her grabbing the skin near her waist, and she asked me, 'is this what they were talking about?"' Laura Williams said. Williams also said that some of her child's friends cried when they learned that they were assessed as obese.
Kids are not supposed to read the content of the fitnessgram that are sent for their parents through them but peeking is prevalent because the reports are only sealed with a small sticker. Children also tend to compare their fitness scores and parents were concerned because this could lead to bullying and possibly eating disorders as kids can be pressured not to be labeled as fat.
Gail Stein, whose 10-year-old gymnast daughter, was also assessed as overweight, said that the report should not be distributed through kids at schools. "It's not right that they give the information to the kids at schools," Stein said. "There are whole cliques going on about this, and by the time the girls get to middle school, they start starving themselves."
On Thursday, health experts described DOE's annual fitness assessment as fat-shaming and pointed out its potential effects on kids. Chevese Turner, from the Binge Eating Disorder Association, said that public shaming can prompt dieting in kids and this could pave way to eating disorders. Turner also said that her organization sees BMI report cards as more harmful than helpful.
Following the incident, the DOE said it will still use the body mass index for its fitness assessment program but it may no longer send the reports through kids. A spokeswoman for DOE said that they are looking for other means of sending the reports so these would reach the parents directly.