Tiffany Yeager -Staff Writer
This past weekend Netflix released a documentary film titled “The Student Body”. This documentary was filmed and written by a high school student from Ohio named Bailey Webber. Webber started this project as a way to find out more about the Body Mass Index (BMI) testing standards within schools and address the obesity epidemic of today’s society.
When Webber attended a school board meeting and witnessed a young girl address the panel of adults, her eyes were opened. The young girl, named Maddy Karimi, explained to the board how, following her BMI test, the nurse sent home a letter to her parents, saying that she was above the regular percentile and should be sent to a doctor to make sure she is healthy. Karimi spoke about how the note made her feel upset and that she didn’t belong anywhere. This encounter is what sparked Webber’s interest in researching more about the negative effects of school’s BMI testing.
Throughout the documentary, Webber interviewed many professionals from both sides of the argument. Some of the interviewees said that student’s shouldn’t be forced to take a BMI test. This reason was given with a few different supporting ideas. One of the main factors in this opinion was the knowledge that a BMI test isn’t proven to show a real measure of anything. The results are not 100 percent reliable.
Another main point in the argument looked extensively at the mental health of these young students. Those on this side of the controversy believe that the mental health of these kids trump a semi-reliable test for obesity. One of the interviewees was a medical doctor and he emphasized on the fact that, if someone is obese, they KNOW that they are overweight; no one needs to tell them that. A few of the other interviewees agreed with that thought and also expressed their belief that body confidence and positivity were essential to young kids.
There were people on the other side of the spectrumas well. One woman in particular was very supportive of the BMI tests in schools. She said that it helps kids’ parents to be aware of their children’s health and works to notify them of their child’s weight, so that they can prevent obesity in the future.
Webber also got an interview with the senator who originally passed the bill stating that all schools in Ohio must have their students take a BMI test. In this interview, he was made aware of the wording of the notes that students were sent home with, and, though he still commented on his full support of the testing, he seemed surprised by the language of the note.
While the bill stills stands and the controversy over this topic is still prevalent today, there was an important take-away from this documentary. Both Webber and Karimi learned a lot about the issues of obesity in America today. They also learned about the effects of bullying and how impactful words can be on people.