Malaysia: Should It Be Okay to Add BMI to Report Cards?

As if A’s and B’s weren’t enough for your elementary schooler to be concerned about, now there’s at least one school that is taking your child’s overall health one step further.

In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, schools are adding body mass index (or BMI) to the report cards of each student. BMI is the tool most used to determine obesity in individuals.

The decision to do so is one that adds more credence to Malaysia’s attempt to combat the growing population of overweight and obese children in the school system.

While I can definitely appreciate an aggressive approach to battling this progressively worsening issue, I don’t think it’s useful to send home a number (especially one as confusing as the BMI) without adding nutritional health education into the mix.

It would make more sense to leave the placement of BMI data on report cards out of the equation and replace it with one-on-one dietary counseling for the family—chances are good that the child isn’t the only one struggling with their weight.

However, if all you’re planning to do is send home a score and leave it up to the parent to do something about it, then you’re not only leaving a negative imprint on the mental development of that child but you’re placing the sole responsibility of righting the ship on the parent—who may or may not have the resources available to make the necessary changes.

That said, at least send pamphlets home on obesity and the inherent health dangers it causes to, not only children, but adults as well, and offer a viable resource for said parent to find more information if they choose to do something about it—otherwise this move doesn’t seem to matter much.


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