State sends 'fat letters' home with school kids

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. - Cameron Watson isn't just a strong athlete.

"I wrestle, play football, baseball, I ride bikes, play basketball, baseball."

He's also a tough 4th grader who didn't let a "fat letter" get him down.

"I know I'm not obese, so I don't really care about the letter," he said. "I just crumpled it up."

Letters like the one Cameron's parents got are going to homes throughout the state.

The Department of Public Health says 32 percent of Massachusetts students have a body mass index that shows they're overweight or obese. The letters are supposed to be a helpful tool for parents.

Cameron's dad said they're a waste and take into account muscle mass.

"No one wants get a letter being told they are obese," Matt Watson said. "That's a very strong, uncomfortable word, and we just didn't see it fitting with our son. He's very active, he's very strong."

While Cameron continues to wrestle in elite clubs, his mom - an elected official in North Andover - is working with state representatives to stop these fat letters.

"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," said Jim Lyons, a state representative.
 
For Cameron, he said he has the self-esteem to overlook a label - but he's worried about his friends who might not be as strong.

"I don't like that my friends, like, their feelings are getting hurt," he said.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is also sending letters home to students who are underweight. The department says all families have the option of not having their children screened for their body mass index.