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Boy Scouts of America bans obese scouts from national jamboree

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Posted at 6:37 PM, Jul 15, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-15 20:37:08-04

SALT LAKE CITY – The Boy Scouts of America has banned morbidly obese scouts and leaders from their National Jamboree, which begins Monday in West Virginia.

BSA officials said safety is their main concern, and any scout or leader with a body mass index of 40 or higher will not be allowed to attend the jamboree.

Bountiful Scoutmaster Ben Anderson has been in the scouting program for most of his life, and he said the fitness requirement shouldn’t shock anyone.

“In the Scout Oath, it says we need to be physically strong,” he said. “We need to take care of our bodies and maintain a certain standard to be able to be physically fit.”

A promotional video shows the kinds of activities jamboree attendees participate in, which include climbing, cycling, skateboarding and zip lining. Officials saod some of the activities are too rigorous for participants with a BMI greater than 40.

Rebecca Fronberg of the State Department of Health said a BMI measurement isn’t perfect, but she said it’s the easiest way to measure obesity. She said a person with a BMI above 40 would generally be considered morbidly obese.

Fronberg said she thinks the ban will help promote physical fitness.

“And so that`s great for the kids and the adults to focus on that, you know, hiking and rappelling, canoeing and all the things they get to do to be more physically active, and that`s a message I think is important for everyone,” she said.

But not everyone is excited about the decision. FOX 13 News viewers responding to a Facebook post on the issue had concerns.

Deann Sarff Torsak said, “The sad thing is… These are some of the boys that need scouting the most."

Justin Wilson commented, “So it’s OK to bully obese children?”

But Anderson said the scout policy was created out of concerns for the scouts’ well-being.

“They`re doing it for the boys' safety,” he said. “They don`t want them getting hurt.”

Attendees at the jamboree who have a BMI in the 32 to 39 range will have to be checked off by a staff member before they are allowed to participate.