State’s plan to fight obesity concerns Pickerington Schools
More than one of every three children ages 10 to 17 in Ohio is overweight or obese.
“The problem is widespread, affecting children in every corner of our state,” said Dr. Leona Cuttler of the Ohio Family Health Survey.
Healthy Choices for Healthy Children legislation, Ohio Senate Bill 210 and Ohio House Bill 373, passed this summer, contains school-based initiatives that will increase physical activity, raise the bar for physical education and improve the nutritional value of foods offered during the regular expanded school day.
This portion of the legislation is offered as an opt in with incentives for schools to receive credit on their state report cards.
The bill also provides for body mass index (BMI) screenings upon school entry and in third, fifth and ninth grades. It also provides education for parents about their children’s BMI and the health risks associated with his or her results.
Aggregated BMI results will be reported on local district and building report cards, using the Center for Disease Control’s standards of underweight, healthy weight, overweight and obese.
The Pickerington Local School District has requested a waiver from participating in the BMI portion of the state mandated legislation.
“This really does need to be taken seriously because of the HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) rules,” Superintendent Karen Mantia said during the Sept. 13 board meeting. “I applaud the board for concern as these are personal issues between parents and students.”
Board member Lori Sanders requested information regarding the legislation to determine if it provides an opt out or opt in for parents not wishing to participate.
“The state is asking us to do their dirty work,” Board Member Cathy Olshefski said. “For me, I struggle with the state asking the schools to do yet another thing that has nothing to do with the educational process and without providing any funding to accompany the request.”
Angela Krile of Healthy Choices for Healthy Children Coalition said the Ohio Department of Education is in the process of working with education board members and superintendents.
“It’s a process,” she said.
The coalition is a group of organizations dedicated to preventing and decreasing childhood obesity in Ohio.
It is taking action to advocate for public policy in Ohio to support research-based solutions, as well as providing parents, educators, institutions and organizations with opportunities to positively affect behavior in the children they influence to create life-long active and healthy Ohioans, according to Krile.
“It’s not the end all be all,” Krile said. “Children need to be looked at. BMI is simply a calculation of height and weight. Any parent can go online to the local Department of Health website and find a calculator to see if they need to be concerned.”
Effective for the 2011-2012 school year, the initial data will be used as a baseline to determine if changes have been effective.
All individual data will be inline with HIPPA, keeping confidentiality in the reporting of results to parents.
Collective data for the individual school buildings and district will be sent on to the Ohio Department of Heath to track across the state to determine where intervention might be needed for underweight, overweight and obese students.
“The whole point of this is to create a first step,” Krile said. “The goal is to do something to see if it works and we are having an impact.”