Monday, January 16, 2012

Schools To Monitor Obesity In Students

A group of Bay Shore, New York, school students will soon be wearing a watch-like device that allows school officials to track how active they are. The devices are called Polar Active monitors and they count heartbeats, detect motion and even track students’ sleeping habits in an effort to combat obesity. The monitors are distributed by Polar Electro, of Lake Success, the U.S. division of a Finland firm. They cost $90 each. School districts in St. Louis and South Orange, New Jersey, already use the devices, which has raised some privacy concerns. “When you get into monitoring people’s biological vital signs, that’s a pretty intrusive measurement,” said Jay Stanley, of the American Civil Liberties Union. “There are key privacy interests at play.” Stanley said parents need to have a say in how long the data will be stored and who will have access to it and schools must obtain parents’ consent. “A program like this should only be voluntary. Nobody should be forced to reveal biological indicators,” he said.