The controversy over the reporting of the Body Mass Index in the middle schools is likely to erupt at the Evanston/Skokie District 65 School Board meeting Monday night as part of the discussion over FitnessGram.

The issue caused quite a stir on the board last year, when a number of parents protested the practice of releasing the figure, which quantifies the relationship between a student’s height and weight, providing an indication of how much body fat a person has.

Too much body fat is regarded as a problem, according to medical experts, because it can lead to illnesses and other health problems.

At the time of the discussion, the board’s leadership, President Tracy Quattrocki and Vice President Richard Rykhus, were defeated on a motion to suspend the testing this year in order to give the board and administration time to address the concerns of a number of parents who expressed a belief that release of the individual data might embarrass some students who were overweight.

BMI testing is part of a wider plan, under a nationwide program called FitnessGram, designed to encourage students to exercise more and eat better in order to counter an epidemic of obesity.

Defeat of the motion to suspend testing was advocated strongly by then-Superintendent Hardy Murphy, who contended that BMI testing was an important component of the FitnessGram program.

Last August, Murphy resigned as District 65 superintendent and will, therefore, not be a factor in Monday night’s discussion of FitnessGram.

After defeat of the motion to suspend testing this year, the board voted 6-to-1  to report the results of BMI testing to parents only by email or by regular mail, in hopes that students will be less likely to comment on the BMI scores to their fellow students.

Earlier stories:

‘Self-esteem’ an issue in BMI testing

BMI testing to continue at D65 schools

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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  1. Fuel on the fire

    I am disturbed by your inflammatory head line.

    The school board, by a 6 to 1 vote  agreed to proceed with BMI testing and reporting.

    Why are you choosing to resurrect an issue that, by Board vote, appears to be settled?

    As a community, can we never move on? On any thing?

    1. Issue was not settled last year

      Thank you for your comment. Actually, the same motion you referred to also included a directive to the district’s Wellness Council to report back to the board in June to recommend changes, if any, that should be made for the 2014-2015 school year.

      Monday’s meeting is a “working” board meeting, where the board discusses issues they feel may require action at a subsequent meeting.

      If you read the two stories we ran last year that are linked at the end of the story above, you will see that passions were running pretty high on both sides of the issue, based upon the reader comments.

      The fact that the FitnessGram Update is the only substantive discussion item included on Monday’s agenda may be an indication that the board wants to allow plenty of time to consider the issue in depth before receiving the recommendation of the Wellness Council in June.

      Of course, if no one shows up to comment, they may conclude that they’ve done their due diligence and let the status quo stand.

      We’ll be sure to keep you posted on the outcome.

  2. FitnessGram

    What ever happened to the 1st Amendment and the right to privicy? Why would a school need to have access to private medical information other than insuring that students have their required shots.

    At the very least, I hope this is an opt-in program. I know that Evanston is a progressive community that believes that government is the answer to all thier problems but sometimes Big Brother just crosses the line.

    1. Correct
      I agree with your comments and clearly this crosses the line, particularly with children at a vulnerable age. I think it is a good thing to focus on fitness and obesity, but do it right, and not at the expense of embarrassing our children. Something like this is between the school, the parents and the child and no one else.

  3. BMI

    IF parents and students  want to know there Childs BMI. They can calculate it in the privacy of there own home. The simple way to do it is on the internet. If the parents or child want someone else to know what it is. they can tell them. I don't see a need for the school to do it and risk someone getting bullied needlessly.

    1. Words of Wisdom

      I hope a Board member reads your words and does something smart. If I had a child in D65, I would not allow them to do the BMI testing on my child and I don't think any other responsible parent would allow it.

  4. Boys and body image

    A quick click through the news will bring up an article today about how boys are as harmed by body image pressures as girls. In trying to help, we may be unwittingly making the situation worse. Less focus on body shapes please! We do need healthy eating habits, especially in lower income families and Mrs. Obama has an important message.

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