As part of the Department of Health’s Required Growth Screening Program, all Pennsylvania families with school-aged children in kindergarten through twelfth grades are to receive a letter informing them of their child’s height, weight, BMI, and BMI percentile. A child whose BMI percentile is greater than 85 percent of his peers may be considered at-risk for being overweight. A child whose BMI percentile is equal to or greater than 95 percent of his peers is considered overweight. A BMI percentile less than 5 percent is considered underweight. The BMI measurement is considered a screening tool and is not a definitive measure of overweight as it does have limitations. Some athletes may have higher than expected BMI percentiles due to increased muscle mass. The BMI screenings will be done in the future, and you will receive the results in the mail. Please call the nurse at your child’s school if you have any questions about the results.
Being overweight has many serious effects on a child’s well-being, now and in the future. Maintaining a healthy weight will lessen the chance of your child developing medical conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. It may also help your child/children feel better about them selves and reduce their risk for depression. Keeping in mind that BMI measurement is only a health screening, please share the letter with your doctor, and if necessary, discuss steps that your family can take to lead a healthier life. The letter is being sent home because, when it comes to preventing children from becoming overweight, we know that parents can make a difference.