School Grades Will Now Pack Weight

August 22, 2003 - Posted at: 7:00 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, Ark. -- The course work for Arkansas elementary schools is getting heavier.

A new law mandates that elementary school children receive a grade on their report cards for their weight. The State Department of Health and Education says it's a way to promote better health. According to Bay Elementary School Nurse Linda Wilson, "fat grades" could possibly create a new menu of problems for children.

"I worry about self esteem," said Wilson. "It's bad enough that you're not making high grades, without having something that says you're obese on your report card."

According to the American Obesity Association, approximately 30% of children, ages 6 to 11 are overweight, and 15% are obese. That same organization considers today's youth to be the most inactive generation in history.

At Bay Elementary, the students are definitely moving. They have a 20 minute recess per day, and a 45 minute gym class. In addition to exercise, the school cafeteria must follow strict dietary guidelines created by the federal government.

"The school tries to provide a healthy diet, but now some children bring things from home and there's always snacking," said Wilson.

Which poses the question: Where should a child's weight be monitored, in the classroom or at the family dinner table?