Senate Bill 506: More Nanny-State Legislation

I’m just going to come on out and say it; the government cannot solve everyone’s problems, especially problems such as childhood obesity.

Late last week, state Sen. Joseph Carter (R – Tifton) introduced Senate Bill 506, the “SHAPE Act.” What the bill does is require local school systems to “conduct body mass index testing of each student two times each school year,once during the fall and once during the spring; make a student´s individual body mass index data available only to such student´s parent or guardian; and designate schools that don’t comply with the statute as an ‘unhealthy school zone'”

In an interview with the Athens Banner-Herald, Sen. Carter said, “We want parents to know what’s happening as far as physical education and whether schools comply. We’ll see students that are healthier, more well adjusted and better students.” [Source: 2/26/2008 Athens Banner-Herald article “State may label some schools ‘unhealthy'”]

Is this legislation really necessary?

Do we really need to require schools to measure their students’ body mass index?

Do we really need to spend money on a website that tells the world where Georgia’s fattest schools are?

I think not.


  1. Goldwater Conservative says:

    It will probably be useful in presenting a case to the rest of the nation that NCLB needs to be repealed or amended greatly. Those standards set by the Federal government have forced schools systems to scrap physical education, music and art classes, etc.
    This does not need to be looked at as Nanny State legislation. It can be a variable in the argument for State and local control of our school systems.
    Not that all Federal standards are “bad.” I think we can all agree that a fed. standard that all children must know how to read and write before entering “X” grade level….Where you draw the line, I do not know. Unfortunately, partisanship has nearly forced our system to cross that line before we know…then go back and waste resources so things can be pieced back together.
    Fact is, Royston has different standards than Savannah, which has different standards than Chicago…etc, etc. There needs to be a basic minimum to function as a nation. So people can be mobile if they so choose and in the case that geographic disparities form, we atleast have a say in how large that learning gap will be.

  2. drjay says:

    the idea of the website and all seems a bit much–but making bmi testing part of the phys ed program is not a big huge deal–the bigger, huge-er deal is what gc mentioned above, the federal standards and erosion of the p.e. and arts from the basic curriculums of elementary and middle school students…

  3. Decaturguy says:

    I think that health and physical education need to have a more prominent role role in education. Shouldn’t we be teaching that? By teaching kids these things when they are young we might have a lot of money down the road in medical costs.

    And what’s the difference between this proposal and a report card that gets sent home to parents? It makes some sense to me.

    And, you know, if this had been in place when you were in school Andre, it might have helped you out some.

  4. Rick Day says:

    Hmm, so who sets these arbitrary BMI standards?

    I have a BMI of 33%, and folks, let me tell you there ain’t no mo fat on this body to lose.

    From this abstract

    The current BMI cutpoints for obesity are somewhat arbitrary, but there is value in a simple, uniform definition across populations. It seems prudent to separate the scientific construct of obesity from the politically linked, nationally specific BMI cutpoint used to trigger public health or clinical action.

    Sorry, don’t have the tools to embed links.

  5. Andre Walker says:

    And, you know, if this had been in place when you were in school Andre, it might have helped you out some.

    I happen to think I’m in very good shape considering that I’ve run 6 consecutive Peachtree Road Races and finished them all in under 75 minutes. Sure, it’s not a world record time, but I crossed the finish line and wasn’t huffing and puffing when I did it.

  6. Goldwater Conservative says:

    It seems as if, for oversight (so to speak), the school nurse or whoever administers this test needs to be certified to use their discretion as a professional…not just another bureaucrat with a calculator and a spreadsheet.
    Which brings us back to local control. It is much easier, and more responsible, for a teacher to evaluate what a student knows than to have every kid take the same test that covers a very narrow skill set. Teachers know their students ability to make rational decisions, or to use logic to solve real life problems, their spatial reasoning abilities, etc etc. The smaller the class, the more (I guess intimate is not the proper word to use in describing a teacher/student relationship) intimate knowledge of each student. The smaller the government, the greater the ability to adapt to the childrens’ needs.

  7. juliobarrios says:


    If you start running the Peachtree in under 50 minutes you may end up getting a “Best Looking at the Capital” award next year.

  8. AubieTurtle says:

    This must pass, but only if county averages are made available to the public. Imagine the opportunities to make fun of other parts of the state (or maybe for them to make fun of us).

    We could have a PPP (Peach Pundit Pool) for fattest county. While Butts County would undoubtably get the most money bet on it, I think Liberty or Ben Hill would take the prize.

  9. Tekneek says:

    I don’t see the point in schools testing for BMI unless they are going to be actively engaging the children in enough physical activity to facilitate the improvement of the BMI.

    Wait a minute. What am I saying? Are the schools about education or government experimentation? This just proves that the government sees their school systems as a testing ground for more invasion and control of people’s lives.

  10. hammer says:

    This is yet another example of government injecting itself into personal matters and I’m afraid it could lead to substantial problems for our children. Childhood obesity can be caused by health issues or more often than not, it is caused by a child being raised in an environment that does not encourage exercise and healthy eating habits. Where you find overweight children, you are also likely to find overweight parents. The schools and the government cannot solve these problems with additional testing.

    The state should consider what effects this testing will have on our children. Will overweight children be looked down upon by their teachers and administrators because they are bringing down the “health status” of the school? What impact will the focus on body mass index have on young girls who battle eating disorders? Why focus on body mass index instead of fitness measures based on national standards? Isn’t it possible for an overweight child to be more “fit” and healthier than one with a very low body mass index?

    The educational components of the bill are encouraging, but it really needs to go further with education about physical fitness, nutrition, and even requiring healthier, more appealing lunch choices for students in all grades. Changes need to be made to accommodate more physical activity in schools since many schools have reduced the amount of time set aside for recess and physical education in an attempt to meet the state educational standards and the No Child Left Behind Act, and as a result, the schools are not promoting a healthy, active lifestyle.

    One final comment/question: How healthy are our elected state officials? What is their body mass index? Shouldn’t they be setting an example for our citizens? If they think this is such a good idea for our children, then they should also participate in the bi-annual body mass index testing and have the results posted for the public to review. What about the teachers in the schools? If they are role models, shouldn’t they also be setting a better example?

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