Six schools test "fat letter" notice

(October 3, 2003) — (Little Rock-AP) -- In coming weeks, pilot programs at six schools around the state will screen all students for their body mass. That's part of an effort to determine how a new state law will be applied to schools statewide next year. Doctor Joe Thompson of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement described the procedure his department will use in screening each student and relaying their body-mass index to parents by mail. Thompson said yesterday the six schools -- which he won't name -- will get assistance from the center in setting up protocol for measuring the height and weight of each student. Thompson says the department hopes to start the program statewide by January or February. State officials say 25 percent of the state's high school students are at risk of being overweight or are overweight.