e childhood obesity epidemic has received epidemic proportions . Th
ere is an 19 % increase in prevalence
of obesity in children and a 17% increase in adolescents over the last thirty years . Without question the impact of obesity on
the overall health of children in the form of co-morbid conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease has been well-
documented. As well, the economic toll , the cost of healthcare because of obesity is expected to rise to 100 billion by 2025
current rates of childhood obesity.
Legislation mandating screening of children using BMI has been repo
rted by several states as a beginning intervention . Today
thirteen states have such screening and some of these also require reporting of the results to parents . Arkansas has the mos
data on the eff
ects of screening and have shown no increase in obesity over the three years screening has been in place.
is paper will fi
rst present the data on the eff
ects of the screening policies on childhood obesity. Th
e positive aspects
of the screening program include parental notifi
cation and an opportunity for parents to participate in intervention/ early
intervention . However, the drawbacks to such programs include issues related to the child�s privacy, a signifi
cant need for
resources, and lack of parental support for such programs. As well, the process of referral for treatment and follow-up for hig
BMIs may not in reality take place, leaving �awareness� as the only outcome.
BMI screening as it is mandated today may not make a signifi
cant impact on childhood obesity Other strategies
such as removing calorie-dense foods from vending machines and instituting Physical Activity programs are initiatives in
which schools might also engage. As the nation considers health policies related to obesity, attention must be paid to the pro
and cons of the state mandated programs and their outcomes data.
Carol Soto is an Associate Professor at the City University of New York. Trained at Yale University and Teacher?s College, Colu mbia University, she is currently a PhD candidate at Adelphi University, Long Island, N.Y. Her research focus is on childhood obesity and its? impact o n the environment. Her interests also include health policy and childhood obesity. She has presented at research conferences focusing on childhood obe sity and initiatives to combat this epidemic.
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