Posted by: Protective Parent (Mom) | 2008/06/28

Body Assessment Quesionnaire

Dear Ross

You advised that I contact you if you did not get back to me within a week. Have you had any luck with your further enquiries. I do believe that body assessments are only done after 16 years of age so I am using that to back up my argument where the school is concerned. The owner of the gym they want the parents to use has a 60% shareholding in the school! I have done my own body assessment many, many years ago at a leading gym group and the types of questins that come up have to do with family history of heart disease, past injuries and problem areas such as bad backs or weak knees. i am trying to get hold of such a questionnaire but the gyms are being unco-operative unless we actually undergo the process. So I am caught between "a rock and a hard place"! I will not subject my daughter to anything like this, she has voiced her unwillingness to have it done and I will not press her to go. As I stated the alternative is to do a similar thing ourselves so I really would apprerciate your help. Your previous reply provides excellent justification against the process. Many thanks for the good information! regards Aurora (Protective Parent)

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Our expert says:
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Hi there

Thanks for the reminder. Apologies for the late reply from my side, computer's hard drive crashed over the weekend and I have been catching up on lost information since.

Nobody I know has a concrete idea of what this test might involve. I suspect it's an "in-house" thing, perhaps developed for adults and now being applied to children. I guess if you were particularly curious, you might consider having it done on yourself, which would at least confirm that their test works on both adults and children, in which case it's not valid!

I've spoken to a few experts in the area of children's health, and there are some standardized fitness-type tests that can be done - we (UCT, that is) recently developed a series of tests for primary school children to do - it involved throwing a ball, jumping, some sprints, a standing long jump, catching etc. The purpose of this study was to develop a set of standards or baselines for comparison purposes, that could be used in future to assess children's development, not health. The point is, these tests were all done in a fun way, and the bigger purpose was to try to identify whether children were on the right DEVELOPMENT path, not so much whether they were fit and healthy. That suggests to me that trying to pinpoint health is a moving target, and no questionnaire can do it.

So I'm pretty satisfied that they're probably not using a validated questionnaire, and therefore from a "scientific" point of view, i'd say you have a right to say no to the test. If it was a valid assessment, it might be different of course, and who knows, maybe it is?

As for your course of action, apart from the battle to convince the school of your reluctance, i do think that a basic dietary consult where perhaps you and your daughter commit to both having it assessed would be good. That way, it's not like she's under the microscope, and hey, it would be a nice mother-daughter bonding thing to make some small changes in diet together! You'd help each other that way.

As for fitness, common sense goes a long way. Children should play as much as possible and of course, doing school sports is a key part of growing up, I guess, so you should just encourage her participation, and that would be a big step in the right direction.

Good luck

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Our users say:
Posted by: Kimmi | 2008/07/02

Perhaps a dietian would have some sort of assesment that they use which incorporates family medical history?
Also, when I was at primary school, in Grade 6 i think, we did a "fitness" test where we had to see how many skips, jumping jacks, sit ups and push ups etc we could do in a minute. It was fun and had nothing to do with weight or fat %.I agree with you that youngsters, especially at the crucial ages of 11-14, should not be pressed about specific measurements, but rather taught the value of a healthy lifestyle.

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