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Arkansas schools fight obesity with BMI screenings - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Arkansas schools fight obesity with BMI screenings

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Texarkana, Arkansas -

As school and health officials become increasingly concerned with tackling the obesity epidemic, a growing number are turning to the idea of reporting children's body mass index to parents.
    
In 2003, Arkansas became the first state in the nation to make school weigh-ins a state law.
    
Today there are nurses in 21 states that allow BMI screenings in school, but are they working. 


Dru Roberts is the Head Nurse for the Texarkana, Arkansas School District.

She says the body, mass, index or BMI law doesn't just measure and weigh children.  

"What it did was encouraged us to promote healthy living," said Roberts.

Since the program began 10 years ago, Roberts says the obesity rate hasn't been lowered, but it has halted the increase of obesity in schools.

She says they're not only evaulating health and safety, but teaching nutrition and exercise.

"We encourage kids to ride bikes, go swimming, and do other things with their families," explained Roberts. "It really seems to be working."

Roberts say BMI screenings are done once a year for all students in the even number grade levels.

The district sends letters to parents with their child's BMI results.

"There are some who are not happy with their child being labeled obese, but they've been very responsive and have made an effort to help us and help their children," said Roberts.

While many feel the BMI measurements are none of the government's business, some legislators say the main purpose is to promote health for Arkansas' children.

Roberts believes healthy habits start early and says the law has allowed their school to do more in the fight against obesity through education and offering healthier meals.

TASD will hold their BMI screenings in January or February.
    
Roberts says letters are often send home immediately with the test results.

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