Forget Detention...Kids Sent Home from School with 'Fat' Notes

While listening to the news this morning and slurping down my coffee, I overheard an interesting story.  Apparently papers sent home with students labeled with the letter 'F' no longer just represent poor academic performance.  Some schools are now sending notes home informing parents their children are too fat.  Of course, parents everywhere are offended.  PTA moms are putting down their Starbucks cups just long enough to knock down the doors of their principal's offices demanding apologies.  I say, however, this might not be such a bad practice.

In high school I was a bit on the chubby side.  I wish someone would have said to me, "Yes, you are active but you really don't need a whole box of mac n' cheese to yourself before each basketball game.  A banana will tide you over just fine".  I could have stood to hear the words "I know you just got your driver's license and you want to go somewhere...anywhere...but perhaps you should choose someplace other than Taco Bell".  

Yes, parents see their children everyday and should be aware if their children are overweight, but sometimes it takes outside intervention to see the truth.  I don't necessarily know if a note is the best method for teachers concerned about a child's weight to communicate with parents.  Notes get passed around, stolen on the school bus and could lead to some unnecessary emotional childhood trauma.  But, a quick chat about a child's health or weight during parent-teacher conferences is not out of line.  Like nurse practitioners, teachers serve as all-around advisors.  They spend hours each day with children and concern for their health as well as relaying this concern to parents is appropriate.

The responsibility to gently inform parents when their children are overweight lies not only with teachers but even more so with us as nurse practitioners.  Although these conversations are difficult to initiate and sometimes are not well received, they do make a difference.  Even if you don't witness drastic changes as a result of encouraging parents to make healthy changes for their children, planting the seed of change does make a difference.  We must take the responsibility to have difficult conversations with parents about their children's weight.


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