Iowa is one of 19 states that require schools to measure a child’s body mass index or BMI.
An eastern Iowa school district says it’s taking that number as a way to invest in its students’ health.
The fitness assessment was started by the Cooper Institute back in 1989 and all Waterloo students from kindergarten through grade 12 take it.
It checks a wide variety of things, from cardiovascular endurance to flexibility. A student’s weight and BMI is also calculated.
Physical educators say they want to do more than just send home a report card laying out numbers, that some people dubbed, “fat letters.” They say it’s not the focus of the 18-week program.
“We think they should have an idea of what fitness is and how to maintain it later in life. So when students get out into the community they know what to do. That’s the objective of our department,” says Mike Sinram with Waterloo West High School.
Forty-five-percent of the kids in the Waterloo School District are overweight or obese and Waterloo schools say the Fitness Gram is a guide to help them fix the problem.