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Derry Township School District

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Body Mass Index

The Derry Township School District is concerned with the wellness/fitness of all our students.  It is our responsibility to ensure that we do everything possible to maintain or improve the well being of the children who attend our schools.

The state-mandated that students be screened for body mass index (BMI).  Every year, your child will have his/her height and weight measured as part of the state mandated health screening for all enrolled students.  Based on these measurements, a BMI will be calculated. 

What is BMI?

BMI (Body Mass Index) is a number used roughly to estimate body fat composition, based on a person’s height and weight.  It is used to help identify anyone who may be underweight or overweight. 

How is BMI determined?

BMI = Weight in pounds  (divided by) height in inches (divided by) height in inches X 703

What does your child’s BMI mean?

For children, BMI is compared with other children of the same sex and age in growth charts.  It is more important to watch how your child grows over time, than to look at any one point on the chart.  A smooth growth curve over time would reflect healthy growth for most children.

BMI alone will not tell you if your child has too much or too little body fat.  Some children have high BMI because they have heavy muscles or bones.  Your child’s doctor can do a complete evaluation including overall health, diet, and activity/exercise.  BMI should be considered a screening tool and not a definitive measure of overweight and obesity.  The indicator does have limitations.  For example, athletes, dancers, and other physically active students may have a high BMI due to increased muscle mass, which weighs more than fat mass.

Why is your child’s BMI so important?

We look at your child’s BMI to help prevent health problems now that could impact the child as he/ she gets older.  The nation has seen a large increase in overweight children and, consequently, overweight adults.  Being overweight can cause such health problems as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 Diabetes, asthma, sleep apnea, and psychosocial problems such as low self-esteem, depression, and high-risk behaviors.

If your family has a history of heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure, it would be especially wise to start making changes now in your child’s health habits.  Paying attention to the types of foods eaten, portion sizes, and physical activity is a good start for better health now and in the future!

What happens to this data?

Every school district annually submits aggregate information from their growth screening data to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.