State se­nate ap­proves child­hood obe­sity bill

Stu­dents to be weighed at Ge­or­gia schools

The Covington News - - Health & Wellness - By Shan­non McCaf­frey

AT­LANTA — The state Se­nate on Fri­day passed leg­is­la­tion aimed at curb­ing child­hood obe­sity in Ge­or­gia by weigh­ing stu­dents twice a year in or­der to track the state’s pop­u­la­tion of over­weight pupils.

The leg­is­la­tion sparked heated de­bate be­tween sup­port­ers who said it’s needed to rein in the ex­plo­sion of obese kids in Ge­or­gia and op­po­nents who la­beled it a “ nanny state” bill.

The mea­sure passed 3713.

It man­dates that schools ob­tain the body mass in­dex of each stu­dent and pro­vide that con­fi­den­tial data only to the child’s par­ents or guardian. Body mass in­dex is a health in­di­ca­tor cal­cu­lated us­ing height and weight.

Once col­lected, the data would be pro­vided in ag­gre­gate form to the state Board of Ed­u­ca­tion and the av­er­ages would be posted on each school dis­trict’s Web site for the pub­lic to in­spect.

In­di­vid­ual dis­tricts could then de­cide what — if any — steps to take in its phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion cur­ricu­lum.

The move­ment to track over­weight pupils be­gan in Arkansas un­der thenGov. Mike Huck­abee, now a Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date who has writ­ten and talked about his own dra­matic weight loss.

A num­ber of other states have adopted sim­i­lar mea­sures.

Sup­port­ers por­trayed the mea­sure as a small step to­ward tack­ling the ris­ing prob­lem of obe­sity in Ge­or­gia’s chil­dren. The bill’s spon­sor, state Sen. Joseph Carter, R- Tifton, said that nearly one- in- three chil­dren in Ge­or­gia is obese or at risk of obe­sity.

“ In Ge­or­gia, the preva­lence of child­hood obe­sity is stag­ger­ing,” Carter said.

But state Sen. Pre­ston Smith, R- Rome, said there need to be some lim­its on where “ the long arm of gov­ern­ment” can reach. Smith that if the bill be­came law, there would be a fi­nan­cial in­cen­tive to stig­ma­tize over­weight chil­dren.

He spec­u­lated that the end re­sult could be a coach shout­ing at an over­weight child “ come on, fat kid pick it up we’re not go­ing to get money if you don’t.”

The bill now moves to the House.

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