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Nervous about BMI percentiles and labeling kids in school

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

My daughter was very excited about her fitness tests at school this week.  She has been setting goals for herself and was really excited to see if she could meet them.  She got her scores today and she met 4 out of her 6 goals. She was very happy. 



She then read the rest of the report which labeled her in the 96th percentile for weight and put her in the "obese" category.  She wants to know what that means.


This is the same child who last week was in tears because she didn't want to wear her ballet uniform because she was worried kids would call her fat. I have already explained to her that people come in different shapes and sizes. 


I have always been high up in the weight percentiles and am labeled as "obese" even though I am healthy and fairly active. My daughter has been high in the percentiles for weight and height since she was a baby.


I am really nervous that this is going to impact my already sensitive child's self-esteem.  I don't want her to develop any food issues because of this labeling at school. 


We have already started to cut out added sugars at home purely because I think it's a healthier lifestyle, not because I feel fat or because I think she needs to lose weight.  I am working on cutting out processed foods as well although that's a harder battle since my parents watch her frequently for me when my work meetings run late and such.


I don't exactly know that I am looking for here, except that I am basically freaking out because I don't know how to explain this without making her feel fat.  And I am feeling very guilty that I have let her get labeled like this.  I am feeling like a horrible mother. 

post #2 of 8
It depends on if it is strictly weight or bmi. A plain weight number doesn't take into consideration the bone density. Someone with a thicker bone structure will weight more than someone with a thinner bone structure. If that is what was used, I'd explain the problems with using that number, and let it go with a "This is not a very accurate way to determine a person's health", and move on.
post #3 of 8

How old is she? I find it very disturbing that they're using words like "obese" to label children, especially little girls. No girl needs to be told she's fat, all girls are perfectly capable of noticing on their own they're overweight.


As for how to make her feel better about it, I'd maybe calculate how tall she would need to be to to fit into the "healthy" category and tell her if she maintains a healthy lifestyle, she'll grow into her weight in a few months and she won't look fat (I'm not calling her fat, you said she was afraid of other kids calling her fat). 


ETA: Sorry, just saw in your sig that she's 8. 8 is WAY too young to be labeled obese.

post #4 of 8

I would contact the school. This is not a good thing to subject young women too.

post #5 of 8

You don't say what the school plans to do with this - a program? more testing at a later date?


I would be honest with her about the meaning and what it really means, not just how you feel. She may very well hear it from someone else if you don't-IMO hearing it from you would be better. I think there is no way around this, if it was done at school, kids will talk and I expect the teacher will as well. How they talk about is something you should be addressing ASAP with the teacher.


I know someone else who is also facing this soon at school. I don't know what your school is doing, if this is just a once and done (I doubt it given they did testing) but you might want to look into what and how this fits into what they are "teaching" if you don't know and if you are going to allow further participation. Why and why not need to also be addressed with her.


I think it's not so much about a label (other kids can do that-sadly and they do) but about how you address it, in that you present what it means at home. If there is a plan by school to address those with this label, will she participate? If you say healthy and someone else does not view it like that and says it to her, it's best to prepare for what might occur- right or wrong. 


Hope you have info on what they plan at school.

post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 

 From what my daughter tells me, they use the fitness tests to set goals for themselves. For example, my daughter scored "outstanding" in 4 of the skills but she has set a goal for herself to improve a bit in each one for next time. (For example, to do 50 crunches instead of 46 next time.)  From what she says, it seems positive and age-appropriate.  The kids are just encouraged to improve their previous scores and to strive for their personal best.  


However, the labeling is what has me concerned.  We explained what it means and what the percentiles mean.  I did not want to give her an inaccurate view of the terms.   I am definitely planning on emailing the PE teacher to see what is done with the label.  It doesn't seem like they are grouping kids according to labels but I want to make sure that it is not being done in a way that is going to make her feel bad/ugly etc.  


To everyone that replied, thank you so much!  I feel much better after reading the responses.  I was in momma-panic mode when I first wrote the post. :) 

post #7 of 8

IF they are not trying to change them out of that group and only work on personal- great!

post #8 of 8
Obese is not a label to throw around lightly! No PE teacher should be doing that. I would talk to the teacher now that you already talked with your daughter.
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