We are pleased to share an update from the Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC) Lobby Day held on October 1st; resulting in changes of BMI measurements in schools as per the recommendations of the advocates. Outreach Manager Katherine Swain McClayton writes about her first hand experience.
On October 1st, I attended my fifth Lobby Day organized by the Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC.) As a board member of the EDC, we work to carefully craft our efforts and initiatives to have maximum impact and change. The EDC has many irons in the fire, but at our most recent Lobby Day we asked Congressional offices to sign onto a Dear Colleague letter requesting the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) examine how BMI testing is administered in schools. The EDC also provided all members of Congress at their meetings a multi-organization fact sheet on the concerns with BMI collection. The ‘Dear Colleague’ letter was initiated by U.S. Congressman Ted Deutch of Florida and is addressed to CDC and the Department of Education.
The goal of this letter is for guidelines to be put in place as to how to collect BMIs in schools with the concern of weight stigma and harm done inadvertently though this practice. BMI is proven to not be an ironclad indicator of health, and furthermore, the way in which this is currently carried out in schools has its share of horror stories. As one advocate told her story, students standing in a line in a gymnasium, and clapping for the person with the lowest BMI is misguided, irresponsible, and dangerous. The Academy of Eating Disorders (AED) issued suggested guidelines for childhood obesity prevention programs in order to avoid such situations in schools.
On October 1st, EDC’s Lobby Day hosted the most advocates and meetings with Congressional offices in its history. The energy was even more palpable than usual. At the lunch hearing, four advocates told their stories as to why we need to alter legislation to change the way eating disorders are researched, seen in the public, and covered by insurance companies and received more standing ovations than ever.
Most importantly, we saw immediate action. The CDC agreed to immediately look at their recommendations for BMI measurements in schools. These updates by the CDC include making changes to the BMI measurement in schools information available on their Healthy Youth webpage; providing targeted webinars on this topic to school boards and other organizations, and adding cautionary, safeguard language to CDC’s BMI tool for school calculator webpage.
Things in Washington, DC do not move at a very fast clip as of late. The Eating Disorders Coalition is proud and excited that the CDC is taking our voices seriously and looking at these changes in BMI screenings. Further victories lie ahead for eating disorders advocates. Yet, this immediate attention and action by our national government gives us hope, excitement, and strength that our work to help all those affected by eating disorders is being heard with louder voices and stronger tones.
For more information about Oliver-Pyatt Centers and newly introduced Embrace, a binge eating recovery program and Clementine, a residential program exclusively for adolescents girls please call 866.511.HEAL (4325), visit our website, subscribe to our blog, and connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.