Weight Bias Issues

Boy Scouts of America

Boy Scouts of America Excludes Scouts with BMI of 40 or More
from Participating in National Jamboree


An OAC member has alerted the OAC to a new bias issue involving the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). The BSA’s 2013 National Scout Jamboree will be taking place July 15-24; however, some scouts will not be allowed to participate due to a new body mass index (BMI) exclusion policy. Scouts with a BMI of 40 or higher will not be allowed to particpate in this year’s jamboree, and scouts with a BMI of 32-39.9 will require further evaluation by Jamboree Medical Staff before being cleared for participation.
The OAC strongly disagrees with this exclusion and feels it further perpetuates weight bias among children affected by the disease of obesity. According to www.scouting.org:

The Boy Scouts of America is one of the nation’s largest and most prominent values-based youth development organizations. The BSA provides a program for young people that builds character, trains them in the responsibilities of participating citizenship, and develops personal fitness.

As stated on the BSA Web site, BSA provides a program for young people to “develop personal fitness.” The BMI requirement is limiting physical activity to those needing it most and goes against BSA’s own statement of “developing personal fitness.” The opportunity to participate in the jamboree and increase one’s physical fitness should not be limited to a certain population of scouts. Research suggests that boys who are affected by obesity are constantly teased and bullied, and they often stop engaging in physical activity because they are discouraged or embarrassed.

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