Youth who received weight screenings in early adolescence did not experience changes in their health outcomes if they continued to receive screening and reporting throughout late adolescence, a recent study reports.
In 2003, Arkansas enacted Act 1220, one of the first comprehensive, legislative initiatives designed to address childhood obesity. It mandated that all children attending public schools be screened for their body mass index (BMI) and the information be sent home to their parents.
The recent study included data from ~1,100 students from Arkansas who participated in the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which was administered annually between 2003 and 2009. The findings? Over time and across repeated screenings, there was no difference in BMI among those youth who were screened versus their peers who opted out of screening, suggesting that screening, in and of itself, has a minimal impact on youth BMI.
It is important to note that the study’s outcome measures were based on adolescents’ self-reports of BMI and given the parental opt-out provision, adolescents who were exempt from screening may have been systematically different from the adolescents who had continued to be screened.