Elementary school children in Cambridge, Massachusetts recently came home with a different kind of report card from school, informing parents of their child’s body mass index (BMI) and what it means about their child’s weight and physical fitness. After all, habits of healthy eating and healthy physical activity are among the more important things that schools could teach.
The impact of this simple, inexpensive report card was studied and reported in the August 2003 Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. No change in families’ behavior was documented. However, there was a significant change in families’ thinking.
Parents who got the report cards were far more likely to correctly identify their child’s weight and physical fitness status than parents who did not. And this awareness led to planning for healthier eating and increased physical activity. Over 90 percent of parents who received these report cards requested that they get them again next year.
Changed behavior is what we need, but accurate awareness and planned change may be a good place to start.