Our Kids' Expanding Waistlines
January 12, 2012
Our Kids' Expanding Waistlines

As I was listening to your recent commentary about Georgia's anti-childhood obesity campaign, all I could say was "Amen, Dr. Laura! You go, girl!!"

As a school nurse in an elementary school in Anchorage, Alaska, I struggle on a daily basis to address the obesity epidemic among our students (and staff). As I do routine health screenings, I notify parents if their children do not pass vision or hearing checks. I have also sent notifications to parents whose children have BMIs equal to or greater than the 95th percentile.

While parents generally react with concern regarding problems with hearing or vision, they usually become quite angry and incensed at any hint that a son or daughter may be classified as "overweight" or even "obese." In an effort to try to stress the health aspects of excess weight, I now always include blood pressure measurements (usually outside the defined limits) and comments made by the child about being teased or having difficulties participating in PE or another physical activity. Even this does not seem to ameliorate the fury expressed by parents.

I concur with your comments that these reactions generally stem from defensiveness due to parental and family weight issues. I see it as my professional responsibility, however, to address any health concerns that arise with the students in my charge.

I will continue to do this and appreciate your vocal support as health care providers throughout the nation grapple with our ever-expanding waistlines. We really should be as outraged by the out-of-control weight-related health problems we now face as we were with illness and disease caused by smoking and alcohol or drug abuse. Thank you!!!

A concerned school nurse in Alaska


Posted by Staff at 3:19 PM