WIN Wyoming

Thought Bullets
January 2001

January’s thought bullets are devoted to the subject of weight and weighing. I can still remember seventh grade gym class and lining up to be weighed at the beginning of the school year. I quickly ran to the back of the line, hoping most girls would be gone before my dreaded turn came. Imagine my dismay when the teacher instructed us to sit on the benches in the room until everyone was finished. I remember quickly scanning the room and feeling relief as I spotted one girl I was sure would weigh more than I did. You can imagine my anxiety when the scales revealed she weighed considerably less (actually she only had one foot on the scale, a small detail the teacher neglected to discover). When my turn came, I can still remember the look of surprise on the teacher’s face as she kept sliding the bar on the scale further and further to the right.

Now fast forward 30 plus years. A group of women on my bowling league discuss how many years they put off going to the doctor for an "annual" exam because they simply can not handle being weighed and "lectured" one more time. I suggest they go for the exam and state they do not wish to be weighed. One woman responds "Oh honey, I already tried that. The nurse said patient weighing is required by their insurance carrier."

There are many sound reasons to take body weights. There are also many emotional and psychological reasons not to weigh individuals. Before weighing individuals, I suggest we ask and discuss this question: do the benefits of weighing exceed the potential harm? Joanne Ikeda, Co-director of the Center of Weight and Health at the University of California at Berkeley, and her colleagues developed guidelines for weighing children and teens in school settings. I have adapted the guidelines below to include audiences of all ages.

Source: Adapted from Guidelines for Collecting Heights and Weights on Children and Adolescents in School Settings, Joanne Ikeda, and Pat Crawford, Co-Directors, Center on Weight and Health, 223 Morgan Hall, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-3104, September 2000.

Compiled by Betty Holmes, MS, RD

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