Obese Boy Scouts: Kids With High BMI Banned From National Scout Jamboree

By iScienceTimes Staff on July 16, 2013 4:14 PM EDT

obese child
Obese Boy Scouts are not allowed to attend the National Scouting Jamboree, which is currently underway. Obese children with a body mass index of over 40 are not permitted to the event. (Photo: Reuters)

Obese Boy Scouts are being denied entry to the National Scout Jamboree, a physically demanding gathering held once every four years.

The 10-day gathering, currently taking place at the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in the New River Gorge region of West Virginia, is host to 30,000 youth Boy Scouts and leaders, is set to be the most challenging jamboree since the first event in 1937. Because of the physical demands of the Jamboree, which includes kayaking, biking, hiking and plenty of walking -- obese Boy Scouts are not permitted.

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This is the first Jamboree to take place at the Summit, a 10,000-acre reserve chosen as the new home for the Jamboree in 2009 and future host of the 2019 World Jamboree. The site was designed to only be navigated on foot, and is purposely spread out to achieve maximum physical activity, something that might present a problem for obese Boy Scouts.

"Part of the design in building this site was to address the need for physical fitness in our youth, which of course is a longstanding component of Scouting," said Dan McCarthy, director of the Boy Scout's Summit Group.

"We saw this as an opportunity to integrate some new challenges...so we deliberately spread the site to enable us to encourage Scouts and basically require Scouts to move about the site by foot."

In order to participate in this year's Jamboree, Boy Scouts are required to be healthy and to have a body mass index of under 40. Scouts who fall between 32 and 39.9 must provide additional health information to the Jamboree's medical staff in order to be allowed to participate, but obese Boy Scouts have no such appeal process.  

BMI is calculated by measuring weight and height. A BMI of 30 or greater is considered obese, according to the National Institute of Health.

"We required a level of fitness in order to come to the Jamboree that we haven't required before," said McCarthy. "And that has motivated an enormous return in terms of both kids and adults getting serious about improving their health."

This year's Jamboree marks another first: it's the first time that girls are part of the event, from the Boy Scouts' unisex Venturing program. 

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