'Fitness grams': helpful or hurtful? - KMSP-TV

'Fitness grams': helpful or hurtful?

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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

Jessica Cintron's 5-year-old daughter received a health report at school saying she was overweight.

The New York City Department of Education sends home health reports called fitness grams. They were introduced into city public schools in 2005. The test measures several aspects of a child's health: muscle strength, flexibility, and body-mass index, or BMI, which is upsetting a lot of parents and children.

Jessica's other daughter, Jelesa, is in the 9th grade. She is one of the estimated 860,000 New York City students who also received a fitness gram last year. She says the letters can lead to bullying.

Dr. Cathleen London, a family health practitioner, says BMI isn't a very accurate measurement at all. She says it's a rough measurement that doesn't take into account if the mass is fat or muscle.

However, some New Yorkers we spoke to support fitness grams. They said the letters could help young people address obesity.

Kids across 19 states are now receiving health letters from school.

Recently, an 11-year-old volleyball player in Florida, who is 5 feet 5 inches and 124 pounds, was mistakenly labeled as overweight by her school as well.

Dr. London believes that maybe BMI is TMI -- just too much information -- and can lead to self-esteem issues. She is concerned that it can contribute to eating disorders.

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