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Adoption troubles

BMI requirements prevent potential parents from adopting.

Image: Pixabay

Image: Pixabay

Ashleigh Melanko, ECU Reporter

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Research reveals high a BMI can prevent people from adopting.

The research by not-for-profit organisation, Adopt Change, has revealed that body mass index, more commonly known as BMI, now plays a significant part in child adoption.

To calculate someone’s BMI you take their weight and height and then divide them by each other.

Regardless of the level of one’s fitness, those with a high BMI were found to have trouble adopting or were rejected.

CEO of Adopt Change, Renée Carter, said these obstacles people have to overcome just to adopt are “bizarre.”

There’s speculation around where the boundaries are between these categories; underweight, overweight or obese.

According to Australian Medical Association president Dr Michael Gannon, having a too high BMI can result in serious health issues.

“Generally speaking the higher your BMI, the higher your risk for certain diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, gallstones, breathing problems and infertility,” he said.

However, according to ECU physiology lecturer Dr Favil Singh, despite the BMI test being simple, it is not a great representation of someone’s health. He said: “It’s not the best or most accurate tool to measure body composition or mass as there are other gold standard measurements. However, these tests are expensive and much more difficult to conduct. Therefore, for this particular reason, BMI is still vastly used as it is simple and easy.”

Dr Singh explained that the test isn’t tailored to get a reliable result of each body type, “a note of caution about the inaccuracy of the BMI as it measures weight over the height. A very fit, muscular and short person will have a high BMI and will be incorrectly categorised. Therefore, for this reason BMI is not the best measurement.”


The inclusion of obstacles, such as BMI measurements, is starting to impact adoption levels.

A spokesperson from the Department of Social Services, told ECU Daily that, “there were 278 adoptions finalised across Australia in 2015-16, the lowest on record.

“The legislation outlining eligibility to adopt is specific in each state and territory government. It is usually a very lengthy process and waiting times of several years are not uncommon.”

Assistant Director of general child protection and family support from the Department of Communities, Jackie Tang, told ECU Daily that most people still don’t have a clear understanding of adoption.

“Many Western Australians still have an outdated perception of adoption and believe that there are large numbers of local children available to be adopted. In reality, the number of children available for adoption has significantly reduced and there is never any guarantee that adoption applicants will have a child placed in their care,” she said.

“With very few children locally available for adoption many people sit on an adoptive waitlist for many years,” she added.

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Adoption troubles