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Critical Elements of a School Report to Parents on Body Mass Index

Your daughter, Alessandra Rodriguez, was measured at school in March, 2015. Alessandra was 4 feet 9 inches tall and weighed 120 pounds. Alessandra’s body mass index (BMI) was 29.0. BMI is a ratio of a child’s weight to height. Doctors use BMI to see if a child’s weight might be putting him or her at risk for health problems. The colored bar below shows BMI ranges for 10-year-old girls. The arrow points to Alessandra’s BMI, which places her in the overweight range.[BMI categories are arranged from left to right on a horizontal bar. Each category is indicated by a color. The BMI category 11.0 to 14.9, labeled “Underweight,” is blue. The next category, 15.0 to 19.9, labeled “Healthy Weight,” is green. BMI 10.0 to 22.9, labeled “At Risk for Overweight,” is yellow, and the highest category, 23.0 to 34.9, “Overweight,” is red.] Why does this matter? Studies have shown that many overweight children already have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or early signs of diabetes. Also, overweight children are more likely to become obese as adults, which can lead to serious health problems. If you have any questions or concerns about Alessandra’s BMI, please share this letter with her doctor. What can you do? The good news is that even small changes can make a big difference in your child’s health. Turn the page to see what you can do to keep your family healthy. You can also visit choosemyplate.gov for more tips and resources. All children, no matter what their weight, should be physically active and eat a healthy diet.

Figure 1. BMI Report (front side of the report)

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Children need 60 minutes of physical activity a day. Physical activity is important for children and adults of all ages. Being active as a family is good for everyone. Turn off the TV. Set a rule that no one can spend longer than 2 hours per day playing video games, watching TV, and using the computer (except for school work). Drink water or unflavored milk instead of sugary drinks. Soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks are a major source of unnecessary sugar and calories. Even 100% fruit juice has lots of calories, so it’s better to eat the fruit than to drink juice! Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. Choose red, orange, and dark-green vegetables like tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and broccoli, along with other vegetables for your meals. Add fruit to meals as part of main or side dishes or as dessert. —Adapted from the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion’s ChooseMyPlate.gov Web site. Work with your school. Ask your child’s school what parents can do to make it a healthier place for kids. Avoid oversized portions. Use smaller plates and bowls at meals to help with portion control. Instead of eating out of a package, portion out foods before you eat. Note to parents. What you do matters! Kids see what you eat and drink and know when you exercise. Your children pay more attention to what you do than to what you say. Created by the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health.

Figure 2. BMI Report (back side of the report).

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The opinions expressed by authors contributing to this journal do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors’ affiliated institutions.

Page last reviewed: August 27, 2015