State Senator Leticia Van De Putte, District 26

For Immediate Release
January 21, 2005
Contact: Deborah Travieso, (512) 463.0126

Senator Van De Putte Weighs In On Sb 205: "The BMI Bill"

In response to the recent flurry of activity surrounding the filing of Senate Bill 205 Senator Leticia Van de Putte, a pharmacist for more than 25 years, is seeking to alleviate any confusion about what she is asking for from Texas school districts.

SB 205 would require school districts to calculate a student's Body Mass Index (BMI - the measurement of body fat based on height and weight) and provide parents with information regarding their child's health status. "Many interested groups and individuals have already joined me in fine tuning this bill into one that will achieve Texas' goal of preventing child health problems, ensure that our teachers are not burdened by the collection of this important data, and protect our student's privacy."

With the number of overweight or obese 4th graders in Texas at a staggering 38% for girls and 39% for boys in 2001, Senator Van de Putte feels that "to protect the children of this state, many of whom lack access to basic health care, something must be done to assist parents in identifying and addressing any possible need their children may have to ensure them a healthy future." Potential health problems facing these children include type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, hypertension, gallbladder disease, problems with hips and knees, anorexia, and bulimia.

The Senator is already working on several changes. "I plan on creating a separate "Health Information Card" which will be mailed directly to the student's parents or guardians and ensuring that the BMI assessment not be conducted by a math, English, or Science teacher but by a school nurse, P.E. instructor, or health teacher. The revised bill will also require that the charts used to calculate a child's BMI be age and gender appropriate. Although this data may be shared with the Department of Health, the revised language would make sure it is provided to the agency in a format that would protect the confidentiality of students."

Senator Van de Putte said in response to reports that SB 205 was an evasive measure set out to only further alienate overweight or obese students, "As a mom I know that parents want their children to succeed academically. By giving parents information on BMI and obesity, they can make decisions on nutrition and exercise to make sure their children are healthy as well."

Senator Van de Putte represents District 26 where she and her husband have lived and raised their family for over 27 years.