In 2003, Arkansas established the first statewide multifaceted strategy to combat the epidemic of childhood and adolescent obesity. One component of these strategies was the reporting of health risk information to each parent through an assessment of their child’s height and weight using the body mass index (BMI) screening tool. This fact sheet summarizes the history of the BMI initiative, describes the measurement process, and provides examples of reporting and data applications.
The Arkansas General Assembly passed Act 1220 of 2003, requiring every public school student to have an annual body mass index (BMI) assessment performed. The measurement schedule was modified in 2007 to students in grades K, 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10; The assessment is reported confidentially to students’ parents with an explanation of the possible negative health impact of a high BMI, as well as suggestions for healthy eating and physical activity; School district and school aggregate data have been used in grant application funding requests, school improvement plans, student projects and food-weight impact studies.