BMI Health Report Cards: Parents' Perceptions and Reactions

Health Promot Pract. 2018 Nov;19(6):896-904. doi: 10.1177/1524839917749489. Epub 2018 Feb 1.


In 2003, Arkansas became the first state to require body mass index (BMI) testing in public schools to raise awareness of the growing obesity epidemic among children and adolescents. Limited information exists regarding the effectiveness of school-based BMI screening programs. The purpose of this study was to determine if BMI health report cards affected parents' knowledge or actions regarding their child's health and to determine the accuracy of parents' perceptions of their child as underweight, normal weight, or overweight according to their child's BMI. A questionnaire was developed with the help of physical educators, pediatricians, and exercise scientists to determine parents' perceptions and behaviors regarding BMI report cards. The questionnaire was distributed to parents/guardians of children who sought medical care at two pediatrician's offices in Arkansas. Based on responses to survey questions, parents are not making changes to their child's diet and exercise habits if their child is classified as "at risk" or "overweight." However, parents did report that BMI health report cards are influencing their knowledge about their child's health. The majority of parents in the study (approximately 66%) did not accurately perceive their child's BMI category.

Keywords: child/adolescent health; chronic disease; obesity; public health laws/policy.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arkansas / epidemiology
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Body Weight
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Promotion / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Overweight / prevention & control*
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Perception
  • Surveys and Questionnaires