The Public Health Council voted to scrap the notification letters in a vote on Wednesday, the Boston Globe reports.
The BMI, which stands for body mass index, of younger kids -- in grades 1, 4, 7 and 10 will still be monitored to track childhood obesity rates, but they will not receive BMI notification letters.
Before the Public Health Council vote, parents of students in the Hamilton-Wenham Regional School District still had an option to opt out of the BMI tests. In mid-September, parents were told that they could opt out of the BMI test for the children if the school was notified by the end of September. State regulations had said that parents have the right to opt their child out of any, or all, of the school-administered health screenings, which also include vision, hearing and scoliosis tests. The parental notification needed to be a written, signed note to the school nurse saying specifically which tests the child opts out.
Earlier this year, North Andover Selectman Tracy Watson raised concerns about the BMI notifications -- since dubbed "fat letters" -- after her son Cameron received a letter saying he was obese. Cameron is an athlete who plays football, wrestles and excels in martial arts.
Watson discussed the issue with state Rep. Jim Lyons, (R-Andover) who then filed legislation to stop the the notifications, which have caused outrage among parents who say the program violates privacy, causes bullying and is ineffective since pediatricians already discuss weight issues with parents.
The topic gained national attention, culminating with a mention on Saturday Night Live.
Recently, Gov. Deval Patrick's administration proposed a new rule that would lift requirements of schools to notify parents of their children's BMI. This new development means the school won't be sending those letters out at all.
Watson and her son Cam testified on Beacon Hill recently about the BMI notifications, saying they lead to self-esteem issues and bullying.
"Cameron, Matt and I are so very pleased that the Public Health Council today voted to stop the practice of sending home "fat letters" to families across the commonwealth!" Watson said. "These letters have caused more harm than good let alone the cost of them to taxpayers. It is always refreshing to see common sense prevail in government! We are also sincerely grateful for all the support we have received from our local legislative delegation in particular Rep. Jim Lyons as well as all our friends, family, neighbors and other supporters throughout the state! A true win for all!"