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Posted on Tue, Sep 20, 2011 : 5:54 a.m.

Snyder: BMI tracking in children is voluntary, anonymous

By Juliana Keeping

Gov. Rick Snyder laid out a wide-ranging health care agenda in Grand Rapids Sept. 14 that includes tracking body mass index of Michigan’s children using an existing database that keeps tabs on immunizations.

Some critics have likened the idea to the ‘obesity police.’

Here’s how he answered criticism after visiting for an editorial board meeting Monday.

Snyder said providing the information will be voluntary rather than mandatory. He added that the personal data is not attached to children’s obesity statistics.

“What it does is create an environment for a health care professional to have a great discussion with the child and the parent on a confidential basis,” he said.

In Michigan, the 8th fattest state, about 12 percent, or 800,000 Michigan children, are obese or overweight, according to the Associated Press. BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight.

View Snyder’s full response in the video below. Then take our poll and leave a comment below. Is tracking childhood obesity a good idea? Once we have the data, how can we use it to improve public health?



Tue, Sep 20, 2011 : 2:51 p.m.

Who is going to volunteer, the doctor or the patients' parents? I bet it is the doctor. I think he doesn't understand the difference between anonymous reporting and anonymous collecting of data. I will bet that the raw data is attached to the personal information in the database. Otherwise it would be largely useless because I am sure that they want to be able to use the data to correlate with public health initiatives or research. If the computer is hacked, the personal data will still be attached and it is very unlikely that the security systems for the database are very sophisticated.


Tue, Sep 20, 2011 : 11:06 p.m.

I didn't think so.


Tue, Sep 20, 2011 : 3:07 p.m.

Your comment contains a whole string of what sounds to me as one speculation after another. Do you have any facts to support your speculations?

Chase Ingersoll

Tue, Sep 20, 2011 : 2:02 p.m.

For those of you who are against the reporting of the BMI......why don't we stop testing kids and reporting the scores to the state? It's not like the tax payers are paying for the kids education and should have a right to know the results. And, its not like the tax payers are heavily subsidizing the child health care in the present. And gee, when these fat kids grow into adults who develop diabetes and other disabilities, and can't work, we can just put them on SSI and let the Federal government pay for them. Snyder inherited this Nanny state. And until he has the votes to actually get rid of it, the best the guy can do is try and get some performance out of the Nanny and all of the people that are of their own free will, signing up for Nanny services.


Tue, Sep 20, 2011 : 1:46 p.m.

How many of those 800,000 children are in households below the poverty line? Fresh fruit, vegetables and milk are more and more expensive, and not everyone has transportation to the "big" grocery stores, or easy access to a "health care professional." Meanwhile Mac 'n Cheese and Spagettios - and even soda drinks - are cheap, filling and non-perishable. We need to consider some root causes, and take care whom we blame.


Tue, Sep 20, 2011 : 5:01 p.m.

DBH, I am *not*suggesting *anyone* feed their children Mac'n Cheese or Spaghettios, quite the opposite. I heartily would wish to see more families able to choose the healthier options. A gallon of milk sells for $2.75 - $3.00, (no difference in price of skim milk); fresh fruit costs half again as much as last year about this time. In any case, for any family with children, shelf life of fruit and milk is largely irrelevant.


Tue, Sep 20, 2011 : 4:03 p.m.

@DBH, in addition to Red Bull and Cheetos, you can also get those things you mentioned with a bridge card;)


Tue, Sep 20, 2011 : 2:40 p.m.

Dry beans and whole grains, purchased in bulk, are long-lasting and nutritious, are simple to prepare and quite inexpensive. Bananas, apples, carrots, skim milk have a relatively long shelf life and also are a great value. These are just a few of many options for anyone, including those of low economic status. Feeding kids or ourselves the "food" you cite above is tantamount to nutritional abuse.

G. Orwell

Tue, Sep 20, 2011 : 12:25 p.m.

Much better idea would be to encourage children to eat healthier (less processed, chemical ridden foods and more fresh foods) and exercise. Get a famous Michigander/athlete to volunteer to go around schools and educate and encourage kids. Without any corporate influence. Each year reward a few students for achieving their goals. Better than tracking BMI. We have too much Big Brother as it is.


Tue, Sep 20, 2011 : 4:02 p.m.

I agree. I remember being at the first parent night of the school year and a parent asking the classroom teacher when they could basically start sending junk food snack and get off the vegetable and fruit regimen that was being imposed for the first few weeks.

Jon Wax

Tue, Sep 20, 2011 : 12:05 p.m.

While Snyder isn't very impressive as a leader, I support this effort. In fact, go further with it. There needs to be a national BMI standard set for children of the US. If they go over, their parents should be fined. If they go over by too much, their parents should be thrown in jail for abuse. Anything that targets obesity should get the "go ahead" especially on a national level. Anybody who is against this is just obtuse. Peace

Mark Wilson

Tue, Sep 20, 2011 : 11:21 a.m.

I'm from the government so you can trust me.

Mark Wilson

Tue, Sep 20, 2011 : 11:20 a.m.

Trust me. No one will ever know.


Tue, Sep 20, 2011 : 10:03 a.m.

I must say the static pic of the video showing a picture of Snyder with an arrow pointing at him telling him to "Please use the east door" is humorous. I guess it's telling him to get out of Michigan. Pretty funny.