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Fat we go again!
September 5, 2013 at 6:24 PM

Is it the school's place to monitor your child's weight and to let you know if they're reaching the 'unhealthy zone'? Is this any different that the yearly vision and hearing testing? Is the outrage over this overblown?

Schools Sending ‘Fat Letters’ To Parents About Overweight Children

STUDIO CITY ( — Many schools are sending noteshome to parents, telling them their children are overweight.

Lauren Schmitt, a registered dietitian, starts the school year by checking out the weight of hundreds of preschoolers in the San Fernando Valley.

“We look at growth charts and percentiles. And when a child is at 95 percent of their…we can look at weight for age or weight for height…that child would be considered obese,” she said.

By October, CBS2’s Suraya Fadel reported that parents will get what is called “healthy or unhealthy” letters. Kids call them “fat letters.”

Schmitt said out of the 900 2 to 5-year-old children she looks at, roughly 200 are listed as obese.

“We let the parents know in a gentle fashion, but we also send out a ton of handouts to try to help that family,” she said.

Experts said 19 states around the country are cracking down on childhood obesity with similar letters.

“Every year there are a few phone calls from parents who are upset,” said Schmitt.

Many districts in Southern California, such as Riverside County, choose to follow state guidelines and instead send test results of the child’s body mass index to their parents.

“It shouldn’t be a stigma. It’s not a way to categorize someone. It’s just showing that this child has increased risk to be obese as an adult, which then could lead to quite a few chronic diseases,” said Schmitt.

The dietitian said the goal is to empower and educate parents with the tools to make healthier lifestyle choices for children.


  • rfurlongg
    September 5, 2013 at 6:26 PM
    I think the outrage is perhaps indicative a nerve being touched.
  • jllcali
    by jllcali
    September 5, 2013 at 6:40 PM
    Childhood obesity is a concern that should be addressed, but carefully. Stigmatizing obese children would be counter productive.

    Please note, I am not referring to kids who weigh maybe a little more than they should but are still able to participate in normal childhood activities. I am referring to children who are clinically obese and or unable to participate in normal childhood activities. No 5 year old should weigh 100 pounds.
  • turtle68
    September 5, 2013 at 6:41 PM

    IMO not monitor, but I dont see anything wrong with a letter that can give a reality check.  

    If I thought there was nothing wrong with my childs weight...and a note came home to tell me different, I would toss it in the bin.

    I dont find it outrageous ....but I would if it was given to my child and give them the ability to read it, then there is outrage.

  • justinnaimee
    September 5, 2013 at 6:57 PM
    I can see the good and bad. At once sometimes parents just can't see the not exactly perfect child they love is not, in fact, perfect. But some of the kids who are taking these letters home really aren't fat. They're bigger than average or more solidly built. Some parents have already had discussions with their children's doctors.

    I just worry about the kids self esteem taking that particular note home. (Anf I worry because I was the kid who would have taken that note home)
  • NWP
    by NWP
    September 5, 2013 at 7:02 PM

    I don't have an answer for this. But multiple studies show that overweight parents think their overweight kids are normal weight and I suppose someone should say something to them.

    Once, my overweight friend with overweight kids told me that my normal weight child looked like a Bosnian refuge. That was offensive on several levels, but I kept my mouth shut about her misperception.

  • slashteddy
    September 5, 2013 at 7:07 PM
    I just think it's ridiculous to label anyone as "obese" based on BMI. BMI is not an indicator of health in any fashion; many athletes and even high school sports players can be considered obese based on this number no matter how lean they are.

    I think a better indicator of health is waist circumference, generally. Someone who is lean will not have an overly large waist circumference and will not falsely be labeled as obese, and larger waist sizes can be an indicator of various health problems.
  • terpmama
    September 5, 2013 at 7:14 PM

    I'm sorry but the hearing and vision I can understand as those are not routinely done at well checks. A look in the eyes and ears sure but not tests. The weight one... Any doc worth their salt should be talking to the parents with kids who are at risk. My son is not on the growth chart at all (he'll be 5 in December, 42ish inches tall and 30 pounds on a good day). He has ALWAYS been tiny as he was a preemie. I don't need him worrying about it (as handing him a note to take home would do). His doc and I are on top of it. Same could be said for a "fat" kid. The school does not need to be running tests that are done at any well check. I don't think the nurse's resources should be used for that. IF I had a problem that needed the school's awareness/input, I would ask. IF I wanted to talk to a dietician through the school, I would ask. It seems to be a pointless and generally humiliating "solution".

  • joyfree
    by joyfree
    September 5, 2013 at 7:20 PM

    Well, it worked for "Dudley Dursley"... Not! In the books, Dudley had to go on a diet when he got too big to fit in a school uniform! He never really looked like he lost weight in the movies, but look how the actoe looks now!

  • stringtheory
    September 5, 2013 at 7:31 PM
    Wow, schools with the budget to hire a dietician? Their academics must be outstanding. The KIDS call them "fat letters," and that concerns me. That the kids are aware of the contents, and probably know when other kids are getting these notices (since they send home literature, according to the article).
  • RandRMomma
    September 5, 2013 at 7:34 PM
    It's not the school's responsibility at all. I would pull my child out of a school like that. The kids receiving these letters are likely being made fun of by their peers, since the students are calling them "fat letters." I understand that childhood obesity is an issue in this country. However, the school does not take the place of the parent.

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