Government Cheese

Because They Are Poisoning Us

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Thursday, September 15, 2005

PA Presents a PANA-cea for Portly Pupils

Pennsylvania joins four other states to weigh its students

The Health Department of the great Keystone State has instituted a new policy this year: Every school nurse will administer a body mass index test (height-to-weight ratio) and then inform the apparently dubious parents of their kid’s score, and explain where that score sits in relation to his classmates. Implied are the misconceptions that

A) an arbitrary number of one’s BMI correctly labels one as “obese”, and

B) that the kid’s folks don’t have a clue that junior is packing on the pounds unless of course the Nanny State sends a letter home.

What is the point of sending home a letter to parents that their child is clinically “obese”?

Firstly, a BMI “grade” does you no good when the criteria fluctuate from city to city around the globe: Some cite the magic number ‘30’, some use the 85th percentile, others the 95th. A percentile depends on the rest of the group, like grading on a curve.

Secondly, the parents know that their kids are big, and either they care or they don’t. But a note from teacher isn’t going to change anything. And chances are the parents are fat themselves.

Does PANA, the Pennsylvania Advocates for Nutrition and Activity, the group behind this plan, actually imagine one of their students going home with his 4.6 hours of daily homework in his backpack, and handing a letter from the school nurse to his busy, detached, also-fat, two-income parents? And then does someone on that panel envision one of those parents stopping, setting down the TV dinner and slipping the oven mitt off one hand while quietly reading this epistle their child has just stuck into their other? Then sitting down with that “Honey, we have to talk” tone so frequent in after-school PSAs?

Who are these parents? Presumably the same people who don’t realize their car is dirty until some prankster scrawls “Wash Me” in the caked mud on the rear window.

“Oh, dear. My daughter is obese. I thought she was just big-boned. She seems normal compared to her friends. I wouldn’t want her to be anorexic. I’m proud that she doesn’t allow her self-image to be tainted by those waifs in the fashion magazines she reads while she chomps on licorice whips and soda pop. Let’s all go out to the Big Country Buffet and discuss this over dinner.”

And what, we ask, is worse: Sending home something as meaningless as the letters, or “giving parents the option of not receiving the letters.” So explains Nancy Alleman, school nurse. I wish the electric company would adopt such a policy, and let customers choose whether or not we want to receive bills.

Nurse Alleman makes sure those naughty little girls get squeaky clean. And just who do those man’s legs belong to in the mirror, and what is he doing in the girls’ lavatory?

Dr. Reginald L. Washington, a Denver pediatrician and big-wig in the field of pediatric obesity, is more sensible about the problem: "To say, 'Here's a piece of paper and the world will be right,' is foolish." True, but what value and power is possessed by ‘a piece of paper’ called a report card, or a med school diploma?

Dr. Washington, who apparently phones in all prescriptions

Teachers seem to think that ‘a piece of paper’ with a number on it, black-and-white results of a test, be it a BMI score or an SAT score or a spelling quiz grade, are irrefutable law (until some dissatisfied parents ask that their school system administer its teachers a standardized test).

Please be reminded that this government-implemented “solution” would be unnecessary had not the government-implemented dietary guidelines created the problem to begin with.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This article is very funny and i agree that schools should look at their cafeterias food for the real culprit!

5:43 PM  

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