To improve the health of Arkansas children and combat the growing epidemic of child and adolescent obesity, in 2003 the Arkansas General Assembly passed Act 1220. This multi-pronged initiative was the first of its kind in the nation. One component of Act 1220 mandates annually measuring the height and weight of each public school student to determine their body mass index (BMI) for age percentile. Act 201 of 2007 modified the requirements so that only students in grades K, 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 are required to be assessed every school year. The Act also requires Arkansas Department of Health Community Health Nurse Specialists (CHNS) to work with schools to assure that BMI for age assessment protocols are followed by school employees or their designees who conduct the BMI assessments and other student health screenings. To help the state and schools, the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement (ACHI) became the administrator responsible for developing and implementing standardized statewide BMI assessments and reporting. The goal of BMI assessment training is to certify participants in the measurement and reporting techniques described in the manual.
Students in grades K, 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 are required to be assessed every school year, however, schools have the option of measuring all students; Height, weight, age, and gender are used to calculate BMI percentile for age; A BMI is a screening test only; it indicates if a person is underweight, a healthy weight, overweight, or obese; Measurement procedures are private and follow a standardized protocol.