Skip to main content

To: Minister of Health, Hon. David Clark

Remove BMI test from B4 School Checks

Remove BMI test from B4 School Checks

Dear Minister,

Please remove the BMI test from B4 School Checks. It is an unreliable measure and discussing children's weight in term of being 'fat', 'overweight' or 'obese', can plant the seeds that lead to disordered thinking around food and exercise, leading to eating disorders in the future.

As a Government that is committed to improving the mental health of New Zealander's, we would like to see greater emphasis placed on eating disorder prevention, given that it is the number one cause of mental health-related deaths.

Why is this important?

We all want to live in a country where children are healthy and thriving. The B4 School Check is an opportunity to provide children and families with the best information on their health.

However the BMI test (the Body Mass Index is a measurement which combines a person's weight with their height) is just a tool and on its own does not show if someone is healthy. In fact on its own relying on a BMI test can have negative results.

By naming children as 'fat', 'overweight' or 'obese' because they are outside of the ‘correct’ measurements gives them the idea early on that they are judged by how they look, and that weight is a measure of their health.

According to the BMI formula, a handful of the All Blacks are obese and the rest are overweight. Weight on its own is no measure of health.

Worse than that, this language can plant the seeds that lead to disordered thinking around food and exercise, leading to eating disorders in the future. Eating disorders are the number one cause of mental health-related deaths.[2]

We should be publicising body neutrality and promoting body positivity, in contrast to a diet obsessed culture.

The BMI test is unnecessary for B4 School Checks and misguides children and parents when looking for healthy solutions.

Dietician Lucy Carey, from Christchurch says "Instead, (of BMI tests) we should be taking a universal approach where every family, regardless of the size of their child, could have a conversation with the health professional about healthy living." [3]

Please sign to ask the Minister of Health, Hon. David Clark, to remove the BMI from the B4 School Check.

1 -
2 - Anorexia nervosa is the third most common chronic disorder affecting adolescent girls, with the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric disorders. https://www.nzeatingdisordersclinic.co.nz/anorexia-nervosa
3 - https://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=12289228

How it will be delivered

Via email

New Zealand

Maps © Stamen; Data © OSM and contributors, ODbL

Updates

2019-11-30 08:45:38 +1300

25 signatures reached

2019-11-29 17:15:48 +1300

10 signatures reached