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Michigan to track children's BMIs


"Michigan to require body weight reports on kids ", subtitled "Governor wants doctors to submit BMI information to state registry to track obesity."

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder plans to direct doctors in his state to begin monitoring the body weight of their young patients and provide the data to a new state registry, in one of the most extensive government efforts to address the growing problem of pediatric obesity, the Associated Press has learned.

They say that the data will be used for statistical purposes only, and it's true that asking doctors to report children's BMI is more appropriate than weighing them in school and putting their BMI category on their report card, as they're now requiring in Arkansas. However, this does seem a bit big brother-ish, it reinforces the idea that weight is more important than (or is equivalent to) health, and I can't help but find it ironic that it's being instituted by a "small government" Republican.

It's surely a disappointment to see this happening in the only state that has a non-discrimination law that includes weight and height. Also, this may well discourage parents from taking their fat kids to the doctor's office.

Announcing the Abundia retreat, 2011 | Michigan BMI Reporting: Action

richie79's picture
September 15th, 2011 | Link | Oh for crying out loud, I am

Oh for crying out loud, I am so thoroughly sick of this. BMI is utterly meaningless, especially in kids, and trying to make it 'central' to healthcare is lunacy given its limitations. Size, however it's measured, does not indicate 'health' or the absence of it. Fat people are more than aware of this fact and the way in which it not only allegedly turns them in to health timebombs but renders them lesser in the eyes of society, without the need for yet more unwelcome and unwanted 'conversations' about it. And if parents don't 'recognise obesity' in their kids it's because the definition of 'obesity' (particularly in infants who shouldn't even be deemed 'deviant' before they've had chance to develop) has been set so ridiculously low.

Personally I believe that someone's dietary / exercise habits are their own business unless they specifically raise them in the doctor's office, but if those MDs and their masters are so deperate to beat people around the head with unsolicited lifestyle advice (probably at the expense of properly addressing whatever issue the patient actually WANTED to discuss) why are they just singling out the fatties, when plenty of thin folk ALSO eat the so-called 'wrong' foods and don't exercise?

Of course, to acknowledge that last point would be to undermine the shaky foundations on which the whole creaky edifice of the 'obesity epidemic' is built and bring it crashing down, and we couldn't have that, oh no. As we know all too well, the focus on 'weight problems' is not about health but presenting the easily quantifiable, visible ILLUSION of health; the triumph of headline-grabbing gesture politics and the need to be 'seen to be doing something' about an invented 'problem' which DESPITE a decade-long, daily barrage of coverage and resultant hardening of attitudes against fat people as individuals was still ranked at the bottom of a poll of issues of concern to the general public.

The recent Dundee 'fat family' case (and those of Anamarie Regino, Connor Macreadie and many others before it) demonstrates exactly where weighing, measuring and labelling kids can and increasingly does ultimately lead, and explains why the powers-that-be are therefore so keen to get hold of this information. Little hope of this being ditched given not only Gubernatorial support and that of Fatfinder General Ms. Obama but also that of a typical 'crusading' health official who as the worst kind of 'reformed fattie' no doubt thinks what 'worked' for her (for now) should be imposed upon everyone else.

The very desire to collect the data and the accompanying rhetoric for me represents a worrying development in what was previously regarded in FA circles as a relatively enlightened state, but I can only hope that if this information does ultimately end up being misused to persecute fat residents of Michigan that an anti-sizism statute passed back when 'the obese' were still regarded as people rather than problems is dusted off and used to moderate some of the excesses and developments we've witnessed elsewhere, rather than repealed as a relic of an age naive to the 'need' to avert an impending Fattypocalypse. At least the balance of the comments on the MSNBC article is, for once, suitably critical.

"What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right" - Albert Einstein

Beanietude's picture
September 15th, 2011 | Link | I'd be interested to see

I'd be interested to see this hair-brained scheme in its entirety and its effect on doctor-patient confidentiality. It is unethical for a doctor to divulge such information and the law cannot compel it even if fatness was illegal (not yet, but watch this space!). I would hope doctors would make a big stink about this "direction" from the state, even if only because it's their licences on the line. But basically, hell yeah, what Richie said.

wednes September 15th, 2011 | Link | Ah yes, small government at

Ah yes, small government at its finest.

Here's an idea, if you want kids to be healthier, stop underfunding WIC, food stamps, and unemployment so families can buy healthy food for their kids. Offer everybody health insurance for preventative care, and stop taking a sales tax from vitamin supplements so more people could afford them.


Well, I'm sure adding an increased stigma on fat kids will solve everything...

BigLiberty's picture
September 15th, 2011 | Link | Uh, so what happens if, as a

Uh, so what happens if, as a parent in Michigan, you refuse to let them weigh your child? Is your doctor going to drop you as a liability to his/her practice?

And, as far as I know, there are no other tests etc that are *required* to be reported by private family doctors, correct? Is this the only one? (in MIchigan, obv)

This, like most well-intentioned interventions based on moral panic psuedoscience, is insanely stupid and will do more harm than good.

Also, everything Richie said. Damn, that man is eloquent!

I've made no secret that I'm against government intervention in most things (if not all). But there are times when the inefficacy and downright harmfulness of a interventionist scheme is so nakedly apparent that one wonders just how stupid and power-hungry the individuals signing off on these initiatives, and how inattentive the voters, must be.

As for putting personal info into a government database, yeah, NO THANKS on this one. I'm already forced to give out so much information about myself and my property that the only thing some bureaucrat *doesn't* have reasonable access to are my health numbers. Shit. I don't believe in the benevolence of 98% of politicians, whatever it is they pretend to care about in their single-minded rise to power over us slack-jawed peons. I also don't believe in the benevolence of the corporations who feed these power-hungry politicians. You think for a minute that one day in the not-so-near future fat kids *aren't* going to be a reason for heath insurers to raise family premiums, with the blessing of whatever state/local/federal administration they've so heavily donated to? Or worse--that some Anti-Fat Crusader isn't going to use this information to target certain families and households, if they think doing so will win them more votes from the health hand-wringers? Yeah, right. Buy me a ticket to THAT fantasyland.

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