Gwendolyn Williams is a health conscious 9-year-old who says she eats well and is active. So she was shocked when she saw that the Department of Education sized her up as being overweight.
“I thought it was unfair. I know I’m not overweight,” said the third grader at P.S. 29 in Staten Island.
According to the report, the healthy third grader and other students were given the “Fitnessgrams” and told not to open them and take them home.
However, the letters are only sealed with a small sticker and apparently peeking is rampant.
“I’m 4-foot-1, and 66 pounds and I’m like, ‘what?’” Gwendolyn told the New York Post.
The city sent home these assessments to 870,000 public school students in kindergarten through grade 12.
Gwendolyn’s mom, Laura Bruij Williams, said she found out about the letters while tucking her daughter into bed.
“She said, ‘Hey, Mom, the school told me I’m overweight,’ and then she started jiggling her thighs and saying, ‘Is this what they mean?’” Laura said. “That was heartbreaking.”
Laura said the next day she called the principal who she said was sympathetic but said the children were told not to open the letters.
The BMI is supported by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention but it was designed decades ago by the insurance industry as a way of assessing the health of groups of people, not individuals, according to Chevese Turner with the Binge Eating Disorder Association.
“Dieting, especially for kids, is the gateway drug for eating disorders and so is the public shaming that can come with this,” she said.