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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Three Inches!

Because of a lousy three inches I am obese? Because of just three inches I am at risk of a host of health problems and probably early death. At six feet three inches tall and 255 pounds I am classified as obese according the government’s body mass index calculator. If I had the genetic good fortune of being six feet six, merely three inches more I would have a BMI of 29.5 and have a bright future full of health and longevity. But alas I have missed the mark by three inches.

If that sounds absurd that’s because it is. Furthermore it is just one of the many issues I have with generic government imposed standards of health measurement. That term generic could not be more appropriate in discussing the BMI as that is exactly what it is.

The Body Mass Index was devised by Belgian mathematician Adolphe Quetelet in 1832 as a measure of a “normal man”. The arbitrary calculation became the accepted formula for health when it was adopted into wide use in the 1970’s by famed obesity researcher Ancel Keys. If not for a growing body of contradictory objective evidence the BMI might be an acceptable calculation but that is simply not to the case.

For example consider the findings of Dr Steven Blair at the Cooper Institute for Aerobic research in Dallas Texas. Since 1970 Dr Blair has studied the effects role physical fitness in reducing mortality rates in over 30,000 men and women. Findings from those years of ongoing studies have shown that being heavy did not increase the risk of dying early and in test subjects with adequate levels of physical fitness being overweight seemed better than being underweight. In other words a high BMI is not a death sentence as we are so often told.

My real issues with generic broadly stated health measurements are one they do not account for individual markers of health. Two they illogically assume that because someone is born short they are doomed to poor health and an abbreviated lifespan. And three in the face of clear contradictory evidence no amendment to those markers is made.

As usual our government with its minions in the health establishment continually attempt to look at us as nameless and faceless statistics. The truth is that we are individuals in every way. Although based on the generic BMI measure I am classified as obese and at risk I have no health issues. I assume that issues are coming in the future but will they be directly related to those three inches that I don’t have? Could it simply be the case that people get sick not matter what they weigh or how tall they happen to be?

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