State Requirements and Recommendations for School-Based Screenings for Body Mass Index or Body Composition, 2010

This study presents a comprehensive picture of state requirements and recommendations for body mass index (BMI) and body composition screening of children, and explores the association between pediatric obesity prevalence and state screening policies.

Researchers completed telephone interviews with contacts at the departments of education for all 50 states and reviewed state content standards for physical education. Twenty states (40%) required BMI or body composition screening, and nine states (18%) recommended BMI screening or a formal fitness assessment that included a body composition component. The prevalence of adolescent obesity was higher in states that required BMI screening or fitness assessments with body composition than in states without requirements (16.7% versus 13.6%, P = .001).

The authors suggest that future studies should evaluate the effect and cost-effectiveness of BMI and body composition screening on child obesity.

This article highlights ideas generated and conclusions reached at the Symposium on Ethical Issues in Interventions for Childhood Obesity, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Data for Solutions, Inc.