To examine how body mass index assessments are conducted in schools and whether student comfort with assessments varies by students’ perceived weight status, weight satisfaction, or privacy during measurements.
In-person cross-sectional surveys with diverse fourth- to eighth-grade students (n = 11,510) in 54 California schools in 2014–2015 about their experience being weighed in the prior school year.
Half of the students (49%) reported being weighed by a physical education teacher and 28% by a school nurse. Students were more comfortable being weighed by nurses than physical education teachers (P = 0.01). Only 30% of students reported privacy during measurements. Students who were unhappy with their weight (P <0.001) and those who perceived themselves as overweight (P <0.001) were less comfortable being weighed than their peers.
Conclusions and Implications
Student weight dissatisfaction, higher perceived weight status, and being female were associated with discomfort with school-based weight measurements. Prioritizing school nurses to conduct weight measurements could mitigate student discomfort, and particular attention should be paid to students who are unhappy with their weight to avoid weight stigmatization.