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WV House of Delegates nixes body mass requirement in schools

By RUSTY MARKS

The State Journal

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Schools would no longer have to collect and report body mass index data for students under a bill approved by the West Virginia House of Delegates on Wednesday, March 15.

Schools are currently required to collect body mass index information and report it to the state Department of Education under school physical fitness rules. The body mass index determines whether a person is what is considered a normal weight, overweight, obese or morbidly obese based on an individual’s weight and height.

There has been some pushback by the medical community in recent years against the body mass index scale as being unrealistic in determining what constitutes a “normal” or healthy weight.

State education officials have required schools to collect body mass index data as a way to help track overall student health. The information is intended to be confidential, but must be reported to “the Governor, the state Board of Education, the Healthy Lifestyles Coalition and the Legislative Oversight Commission on Health and Human Resources Accountability for use as an indicator of progress toward promoting healthy lifestyles among school-aged children,” according to existing state law.

However, a bill voted on in the House of Delegates on Wednesday would strike all references to the collection and reporting of body mass index information. Bill co-sponsor Delegate Amy Summers, R-Taylor, explained the intention of the legislation, House Bill 2618, was to completely remove the requirement to obtain body mass index data for students.

Summers is a nurse, a nursing administrator and co-chair of the House Committee on Health.

House members voted 92-7 in favor of the bill. The legislation will go to the state Senate for further consideration.

Also on Wednesday, members of the House committee on government organization voted to advance a bill that would do away with the state surplus property agency. Responsibility for registering and disposing of state property would be transferred to the Department of Administration under the proposed legislation, House Bill 2819.

Under provisions of the bill, all state property worth more than $1,000, or computers worth more than $500, would have to be reported to the Department of Administration within 30 days of purchase. It would then be up to individual agencies what they did with their property when they were through with it.

Agencies would be able to decide whether to keep, trade or sell off old or outdated property, although vehicles would have to be sold at auction under provisions of the bill. Property owned by the Division of Highways worth more than $1,000 would also have to be sold at auction under the bill, but there would be different rules for vehicles and construction equipment.

Committee members approved House Bill 2819 without comment and referred it to the finance committee.

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