Parents of elementary school students weigh in on height, weight, and body mass index screening at school.
School-based body mass index (BMI) screening and parent notification programs have been recommended as a childhood overweight prevention strategy. However, there are little empirical data available to guide decision making about the acceptability and safety of programs. A pilot study was conducted using a quasiexperimental research design. In fall 2004, children in 4 suburban elementary schools (kindergarten to sixth grade) in the St Paul/Minneapolis, MN, metropolitan area completed height/weight screening. The following spring, parents in 2 schools received letters containing height/weight and BMI results. A self-administered post-only survey examined parents' opinions and beliefs regarding school-based BMI screening and parent notification programs (response rate: 790/1133 = 70%). The chi2 test of significance was used to examine differences in program support by treatment condition, child's weight status, and sociodemographic characteristics. Among all parents, 78% believed it was important for schools to assess student's height/weight annually and wanted to receive height, weight, and BMI information yearly. Among parents receiving the letter, 95% read most/all of the letter. Most parents (80%) and children (83%) reported comfort with the information in the letter. Parents of overweight children were more likely to report parental discomfort as well as child discomfort with letter content. There was considerable parental support for school-based BMI screening and parent notification programs. Programs may be a useful overweight prevention tool for children. However, continued attention to how best to support parents and children affected by overweight is required.
Kubik, MY; Fulkerson, JA; Story, M; Rieland, G
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