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Weight Management Referrals/BMI

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Overview

Kids ExercisingSchools represent the second most influential environment for a student. With increasing numbers of students entering school with chronic health concerns, supporting students’ weight management is increasingly necessary. Body Mass Index (BMI) is the mostly widely used indicator for weight management. BMI is a calculation that uses a person’s height and weight to estimate how much body fat they have, and too much body fat is a problem since it can lead to chronic health problems. Weight management and BMI collection is a way to track and support student health, serve as a tool to discuss health with parents, and is an opportunity to refer students in need to additional health services.

Take Action

Try these strategies to track student BMI and support healthy weight management:

  • Assess students at the beginning, middle, and end of the school year in order to implement effective interventions.
  • Partner with local nursing programs to help with data collection confidentiality and accurate measurements.
  • Send home BMI information and resources to parents so they are aware of BMI and can support their child at home.
  • Establish relationships with local health care providers to refer overweight children.
  • Develop school wide goals and strategies for how your school will help students maintain a healthy weight. Will you have monthly fitness nights? Start an after school physical activity club?
  • Develop a team approach (school nurse, teachers, parents, school administrators) to refer students to the nurse for weight management care. How will teachers notify the nurse of a student’s weight concern? How will school nurses share student information to parents in a private, respectful way?
  • Host a staff professional development to educate staff on the importance of maintaining a healthy weight, and share processes/procedures for referring students with weight concerns to the school nurse.
  • Host parent workshops to share nutrition education information to implement at home, and encourage healthy weight management.

Tips

Weight is a sensitive issue. When communicating with students, try not to focus on losing or gaining weight. Instead, focus on the need to be healthy to live a long and happy life.

Notify students, parents/guardians, and school staff prior to screening process.

Give adequate time for screening to ensure proper assessment and individual privacy.

Every student should be weighed and measured in private. No other students should be present.

Collect consistent data (beginning of the school year and end of the school year, for example) to track the progress of each student.

Notify parents of the results and provide resources for how they can support their child in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Determine parent and teacher advocates to support school wide and nurse initiatives.

Recruit a registered dietitian to volunteer to host a monthly healthy eating workshop for parents and/or students.

Have volunteers (like a local fitness instructor) assist or lead an after school physical activity club or fitness night for students.