- (Reuters/Rick Wilking)
A school in Florida sent a "fat letter" to an 11-year-old girl last week after she was considered overweight after a mandatory test revealed that her Body Mass Index was too high for her height and age.
Lily Grasso is 5'4" and weighs 124 pounds. She is also a member of her middle school's volleyball team and her revealed that she eats healthy.
"Lily is tall, athletic, solid muscle - by no means is she overweight," Kristen Grasso told the Orlando Sentinel.
"It says 'at risk,' and then it tells you to go to their website. When you do that the 'at risk' turns to 'Lily is overweight,'" Grasso added. "Lily is athletic, tall, plays volleyball six days a week for two different teams. She's not overweight."
The BMI assessment was part of a health screening carried out at the Naples middle school. The letter came from the Collier County Health Department that said Lily's body mass index found her to be at risk for becoming overweight.
Florida state law requires schools to screen students at the beginning of each year. The tests results do come with a caution that some children might return a skewed BMI if they are in the top percentiles for height and weight in their age group.
"We always want parents to realize that it says so in a letter, and it's only a screening tool," said Deb Millsap, a spokeswoman for the state's health department. "Every parent, [even] if a child's screening is normal, receives a letter so no child is singled out."
Some still are worried that the letter known as "fat letters" might lead to unhealthy thinking during an impressionable period in a child's life.
"I would like to see BMI testing in schools banned," said Claire Mysko of the National Eating Disorders Association. "For those who are already insecure about their weight, these tests can … potentially trigger an eating disorder."