You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.


Welcome to

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

breaking news

Woman killed in home invasion identified

Statistics can carry too much weight

Maybe Hillary Clinton was misquoted when she said it takes a village to raise a child. Perhaps what she really meant was it takes a village and a Department of Public Health. That, at least, is what the Commonwealth of Massachusetts seems to think.

Recently it sent out letters to parents of children who, it had determined, were overweight or obese. The DPH had not actually seen these children, but it arrived at its conclusions by the use of statistics.

Among those who received one of those “fat letters” were the parents of 94-pound Cameron Watson, an active 10-year-old who plays baseball, football and had just won a state wrestling championship. But a statistic called his body mass index (BMI) indicated that he was overweight.

Matt and Tracy Watson were understandably upset, as any parent would be who received an official notice saying, “Your kid’s a porker.”

“No one wants to get a letter being told they are obese, that’s a very strong, uncomfortable word,” Matt Watson told CNN. “I don’t think all of a sudden we have to wake-up and say the people of Massachusetts need to be told everything to do with their kids, whether it’s to feed them a cupcake or to feed them broccoli.”

Like the Massachusetts DPH, I’ve never met Cameron. But I did see a video of him doing pushups and sit-ups. He appeared to be of average height and he didn’t seem to have a beer belly, love handles or more than one chin.

The Massachusetts DPH defended its practice of using statistics as a health indicator, citing yet another statistic that found 32.3 percent of Massachusetts children fall into the overweight or obese category.

“Helping children maintain a healthy weight may prevent serious illness later in life,” a spokeswoman declared. “BMI screenings are intended to raise parents’ awareness about this issue.”

Regardless of age, obesity definitely is a major topic these days. Government agencies are addressing it with the same intensity they once used to root out Communists.

But sometimes obesity is in the eye of the beholder. Or in the eye of a government agency. And sometimes, perhaps, statistics are the ones that are given too much weight.

I went online to check my weight, so I could be prepared if the state of Ohio ever decides to take on the issue of obese grandfathers. According to one site my BMI was “marginal” and, according to another I was too heavy if I weighed more than 173 pounds.

When I stepped on the scale this morning, I weighed 175.

I hope the state of Ohio doesn’t send my parents a letter.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in

Take a look at your landscape for decorating ideas
Take a look at your landscape for decorating ideas
Police officer mans Salvation Army kettle, shows off dance moves
Police officer mans Salvation Army kettle, shows off dance moves
He's got the moves to serve and protect. But a police officer in Cleveland, Tennessee, used some other moves to help raise money for the local chapter of the Salvation Army.
Someone put up a ‘satanic display’ in Boca Raton
Someone put up a ‘satanic display’ in Boca Raton
A “satanic display” of a pentagram with a nearby banner and sign were placed in Sanborn Square in Boca Raton, Florida, overnight and are causing a stir in the surrounding faith community, according to a local church.
Christmas in the Village is in third decade
If it takes a village to raise the Christmas spirit, one area town has had it covered for more than 30 years.
Food for body and soul
Each traditional holiday dish has a fascinating history. Our beloved green bean and mushroom soup casserole topped with French fried onions, for example, was created by Dorcus Reilly, a Campbell Soup Company employee, in 1955.
More Stories