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School sends home letter calling some students 'obese'


( – Imagine getting a letter from your child's school and opening it up to find that school officials say your child is obese. One such letter was sent to parents of a 10-year-old, active North Andover boy, and they were not too pleased.

The letter, which was sent home to children in select grades throughout the state, detailed the students' height, weight, and body fat percentage after school screenings which were conducted per state law.

When Cameron Watson's parents first received the letter, they crumpled it up. Cameron, a fourth-grade student, plays football, practices martial arts, and wrestles.

According to his parents, he practices several times a week. In fact, this weekend he is wrestling in the state finals and must weigh in at 95 pounds.

Cameron and his mother were stunned when they got this letter saying that his body mass index (BMI) put him in the "obese" category. According to his BMI, Cameron is in the 95th percentile for his age group.

"Why do you care? It's not your body. And how they do it? With the numbers, Tom Brady's obese, and he's the skinniest quarterback in the NFL," Cameron said.

Cameron told FOX 25's Heather Hegedus that when the letters went home both girls and boys at the school were upset.

"You're either anorexic – that means you're too small, or you get the obese letter, that means you're too big. You can't be just right," he added.

Cameron's mother Tracy, a North Andover selectwoman, says the state is fixating too much on just a number rather than looking at a child's overall health.

"There were a number of children that, you know, went to bed not feeling great about themselves that night. And that bothered me," she said.

Tracy Watson is also concerned that the screenings cost school districts money, money that could be better spent.

"Why don't we have a nutritionist speak to our children? Why aren't we hiring any more gym teachers?"

Tracy Watson recently filed legislation on the state level to put an end to BMI screenings in schools.

Cameron is hoping that someday he'll have the last laugh.

"In your face. I'm a pro-football player, and I got the obese letter when I was 10," he joked.

FOX 25 reached out to the Department of Public Health, but no one was available at the time.

The DPH did release a statement saying, "Children with high BMI are more likely to become overweight or obese adults and be at a higher risk for diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. Helping children maintain a healthy weight may prevent serious illness later in life. BMI screenings are intended to raise parents' awareness about the issue"

The department also says parents can waive their child's BMI screening, but they say childhood obestity is a real problem, even here in Massachusetts. Those screening found that more than 32 percent of Bay State students are overweight or obese.