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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

BMI, nothing but a fat sham

What is bodymass index?

If you figure out your hight squared divided by your weight in kilos, you'll know your Bodymass Index, BMI, or more specifically the average wait of every square centimeter of your body.
What the hell does that tell you?
Nothing, until you've compared it with a cirtain chart, which for the last 30 years, have been used to determine whether your: underweight, just right, overweight, or fat.
Unfortunately society in general and, media in particular has managed to accomplish such an askew view of physical appearance in relation to health, that most people wouldn't be especially devestated if they got a number lower than 18,5, which would mean that they were underwait. But being underwait involves a lot of risks to your health as well.
I can however assure you that noone would want to get a number higher than the dreaded 24,9 and, if they did there would be serious money potential for all the companies out there, that make a profit off of selling diets. And that, dear reader, is the problem here.

A comflict of interest

From the beginning, , the number you should avoid at all cost was 27,8 for men and, 27,3 for women, but In 1998 the american national Institutes of Health, NIH, decided to take it down to 25 for both sexes, for no obvious reason at all.
The reason does become a little bit clearer however, if you consider that: Xavier Pi -Sunyer, Graham Colditz, Claude Bouchard and Shiriki Kumanyika all were on the board when the decision was made.

Xavier Pi, - sonyer, had accepted huige sums from, Weight Watchers, Roche and Knoll, just to mention a few, The latter being the manufacturer of the popular medication, Meridia, which is used for the medical management of weight loss .
Graham Colditz and Claude Bouchard both had strong financial ties to Roche as well and, Shiriki Kumanyika was also at the time a member of the committee for Weight Watchers. Shouldn't that have been considered a conflict of interest?

Motivated by health or money?

Keep in mind, that when they're talking about an explosion of obesity in the U.S, they often forget to mention the fact that over 30 million americans became overweight from one day to the next without having consumed a single extra calory. This doubled the amount of people who needed treatment for their weight problems and it was a scoop for the obesity industry. Suddenly the market for their products became worth 322 billion swedish crowns, or about $ 4 billion a year in the U.S alone.

BMI is not an acceptable measurement of health

There are people consuming several liters of pop a week, who have pizza, burgers and fries, or other examples of unhealthy foods for lunch every day, have poptarts, honey pops, or other things loaded with sugar for breakfast, but they're still not overweight. Even though This is of course usually only a question of time.

There are also examples of people working out and eating healthy foods, who are overweight acording to the scale, which unfortunately makes them more likely to quit living the right way, since it's apparently not yielding any results. But I can tell you that the second example is a lot more likely to avoid dying from a heart atac at 40.

According to Fredrik Nystrom, professor in heart medicin, there's nothing healthy about the BMI-scale. In fact it's Quite the opposit, as the ideal wait for dealing with several heart conditions, would make you overwait according to the chart.
Also, you can be just right according to the scale, without living a healthy life style, which opens up the possibility for missing important factors when it comes to your health.

Yet this is always the argument advertised when it comes to bodymass index:
"CALCULATE YOUR BMI NOW TO FIND OUT IF YOU'RE HEALTHY!"
"LET OUR BMI CALCULATER TELL YOU IF YOUR HEALTHY..."
"USE OUR BMI CALCULATER TO SEE IF YOUR WEIGHT IS HEALTHY, IF NOT WE HAVE THE RIGHT HELP FOR YOU..."
I made them up, but they have all been used, just Google bodymass index and you'll get about 8 million hits telling you something to that extent.

You'll also find sites, such as the one owned by the previously mentioned Roche, the manufacter of Xenical, which of course is a medication for weight loss, where they'll tell you that The World health organization, WHO, have created the BMI-scale to get an international standard of health.
This is a down right lie people!

The origin of BMI

Actually, the scale was created by Adolphe Qu├ętelet back in 1830 and, it did not have one bit to do with health. MR Qu├ętelet was an astronomer who wanted to create a bit of order in the universe, so he figured out a way to calculate the average weight of things both here on earth and out in space. In the nineteen fifties, an ensurance company started using the method as a way of figuring out how long their customers would be able to pay their premiums. The thoughtprocess was that the more similarities there was between a cirtain individual and, a 25-year-old man, the greater was the likelyhood of them being able to make money for a long time.

The danger of letting kids use the BMI-scale

Whether you think that the BMI is a good method or not, children should not ever be measured by the same scale that are used for adults. This is common sense and even most of the actors in the field of the obesity industry will tell you so.
Yet calculating BMI is a popular thing during math class, at least here in Sweden.

This of course will teach kids who are not even overweight to feel a lot of shame about their bodies at a way to early age. The media is doing a good job here anyway and, they don't need more things added to the general obsession with physical appearance.
Overweight is a problem among children today, as well as in adults, there's no denying that, but wouldn't it stand to reason that it'd be better to teach the kids a healthy lifestyle in school, than teaching them how to calculate some kind of imaginary normal weight, that doesn't even apply to children. Something that by the way is more likely to cause a eating disorder, than creating a math genius.

The importance of a healthy lifestyle

Allow me to give you a peace of general advice to stay healthy without the BMI-Scale.

1. Take all the sugar loaded drinks out of the schools, no pop, no juice, no cool aid. Do the same at home of course except for on special occasions. Milk or water does a better job if you're thursty anyway.

2. Do not allow things that ar inundated with sugar for breakfast either. Sorry, but poptarts, koko pops, honey pops and the like must be banned from the table. Make an exception for one day on the weekend for example. Hot cereal or granola (unsweetened) will keep you full longer anyway.

3. Take pizza, burgers and, other processed unhealthy trash off the menu, in school and at home, except as an occasional treat. try to have fish 3 times a week, and have plenty of vegetables with lunch and dinner.

4. A gym class in the morning at every single school and, for everybody would be great, but I doubt that we'll live to see that, so parents, make sure that your kids have to work out if they want computer or tv time. All the kids, not just the ones with a weight problem. It works great, trust me.

5. no candy, cookies or desserts, none what so ever, except on the weekends.

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