School says boy obese; mom says no way

By Alicia Booth, General assignment reporter

MIDDLEBURG, Fla. - Schools across the country and right here in northeast Florida are battling obesity by doing health screenings for children.

But the results of one of those screenings are infuriating one Clay County mother.

The screening classified Jen Arthur's son as obese, and she said you can tell just by looking at him he is far from overweight.

Arthur said when she got the report in the mail, she went through the roof. She said clearly something is very wrong with the system, and it could hurt the children these notices are designed to help.

To look at him, most people probably wouldn't describe 6-year-old Chance Arthur as obese, but that's exactly how a health screening at his Clay County school classified him.

"I was shocked," Jen Arthur said. "I mean, my son is by no means obese. I was floored."

The health screening shows, based on Chance's body mass index, or BMI, he is obese, in the 98th percentile, in fact.

"It's like they looked at this paperwork without even looking at my son and then turned it in," Arthur said. "Like obviously, looking at him, he's not obese."

She said Chance is fit and unusually muscular for his age, but healthy.

"I feel like they want cookie-cutter children, and if not this certain weight and height, they're labeled and that really upset me," Arthur said.

The spokesman for Clay County schools said the results are based on guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Florida Department of Health. He said the district is committed to improving the health of its children.

"And that's what I would like parents to know," said Gavin Rollins, of the school district. "This is all about informing parents and families about their child's health, it really is. We want your child to be healthy and productive because we know that produces better students."

For now though, Arthur is finding through comments on her Facebook post about the screening that many other parents agree with her that something needs to change.

"I honestly think that they're going about this all wrong," she said. "I mean, if this is the method that they go by to determine if the child is obese, it's obviously wrong, looking at my son."

The school district said parents can opt out of the screening if they like and that this is not a diagnosis, just something to talk about with the child's doctor.

Arthur said she's been very happy with the school's commitment to health, but this part has to change.

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