Rochester Schools Now Testing Kids BMI

Posted at: 05/30/2013 9:45 PM
Updated at: 05/30/2013 10:27 PM
By: James Wilcox

(ABC 6 News) -- The state health department says about a quarter of Minnesota adults are obese. Now schools are taking notice. State law requires students to go through early childhood screening before they start kindergarten, but a school in our area, is going above and beyond.

It's preschool screening day for four-year-old Sam Recks. His school district in Rochester, like many across the country, screens all three to five-year-olds before they start school. They test things like height, hearing, vision, and other areas.

"It's important to make sure your child is developing the way they should by so they are going to be ready for kindergarten," says Sam's father James Recks.

Now, they've added body mass index, or BMI, to the list.  

"One in three children is either overweight or obese," says Mayo Clinic Dr. Esther Krych.

Dr. Krych and her colleagues developed the BMI screening material. They want to identify kids whose BMI is too high and educate parents.

"Our goal is to try to stop the problem before it starts, and that's really prevention," says Dr. Krych.   

If a child is found to be overweight or obese, which little Sam is not, the school offers parents information supplied by mayo clinic that can help.

"Teaching parents how to keep their child active and how to make healthy choices about eating habits," says Peggy O'Toole-Martin with Early Childhood Screening.

Habits that can improve the health of children, not just during the school years, but for a lifetime.

The screening is more than a physical test. It also measures a student's developmental abilities, like motor skills, social skills, and speech and language skills. The entire thing takes about an hour.