By Donna Krache, CNN
(CNN) As you read this, somewhere in a gym in a school in Georgia, a student may be stepping onto a scale - backward - to comply with state law. Georgia is one of the latest states to mandate that schools track fitness levels and calculate body mass index (BMI) in an effort to combat childhood obesity, and provide parents with reports on their students' physical composition and fitness.
Georgia is second in the nation in childhood obesity; one in three children ages 10-17 is considered overweight or obese in the state, according to its Department of Education. According to Georgia State Rep. Brooks Coleman, the new law is one answer to that problem. Concerned about a trend toward less physical education and recess in state schools, he helped to sponsor HB 229, also known as SHAPE, the Student Health and Physical Education Act, which was passed by the Georgia Legislature and signed by the governor in 2009. Schools begin weighing and measuring students this month. Physical education teachers will ask children to step onto scales and turn around so they don't see their own weight. Their parents will be given calculated information on BMI and fitness levels to share with their kids. Each district will compile its data into a report that is submitted to the governor.
According to the National Association of School Boards of Education, about a dozen states require some sort of weight recording and reporting as a means of combating childhood obesity. Arkansas was the first state to take measurements and send annual reports home to parents, beginning in 2003.
The CDC says that little is known about the outcomes of BMI measurement and reporting and whether this has a significant impact on weight-related behaviors.
However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that BMI should be calculated and tracked regularly as part of a child's normal health supervision.
So the question arises: Who should monitor students' physical composition data, schools or parents?
Some, like Marietta (Georgia) School Board Member Randy Weiner commend their state for focusing attention on the problem of childhood obesity, but question the mandate for schools to measure students' BMI. "Parents are responsible for maintaining and keeping track of their child's fitness level. The State of Georgia handing a piece of paper to parents stating their child's BMI level is too high or too low will not make a difference to parents who don't value good nutrition and exercise to begin with. Not only could this lead to an additional opportunity for students to bully some kids for being too fat or too skinny, it is an unnecessary intrusion by the state," says Weiner.
Weiner says there are other ways to assess physical fitness, like the Presidential Fitness Test, that don't require weighing and measuring kids at school.
Coleman says he believes it is one role that government should play. He says, "In the long run, if kids develop diabetes and heart trouble, the government pays for it one way or another."
We want to know your opinion: Do you think that schools weighing kids and supplying the information to parents is a solution to the problem of childhood obesity?