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BMI Mandate Removed From School Obesity Bill

ATLANTA -- Georgia lawmakers eliminated a key provision from an anti-obesity bill that would have forced students to “weigh in” twice a year at their schools to determine their body mass index (BMI).

Under the revamped bill, Georgia students would have to instead complete a physical fitness test, including push-ups and running. The details of that test would be determined by the state Department of Education, but the use of BMI would be banned.

Several other states have BMI checks in their schools. Supporters say it propels parents into action, prompting them to seek medical help or change eating habits at home. Critics argue that a person’s BMI score is a simplistic way to look at overall health and worry that it would add to the stigma faced by overweight children.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Joseph Carter, said data shows that one in three Georgia children is either obese or at risk of obesity.

“This is a serious public health issue,” Carter says.

Last fall, a Georgia Youth Fitness Assessment study of 5,000 fifth- and seventh-graders in the state of Georgia revealed that more than half of them failed to pass a fitness test. About 30 percent of Georgia students weigh too much, and 44 percent do not get enough exercise, the study showed.

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