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Skewing the Definition of "Fat"

Cocaine use is way up in Europe, from 3.5 million users last year to 4.5 this year.
The wall between Arizona and Mexico is under construction.

But also in the news: a recent JAMA study found that "overweight" people live longer on average than either "healthy weight" or very skinny people. The "anti-fat" doctors were apparently outraged. Then everyone suddenly realized that the BMI index is inadquate for evaluating people's level of obesity--because it does not, cannot take into account differing weights of muscle, bone and fat.

I know that the scale is off because my whole life I've been "overweight" according to the BMI scale, while I was a lot fitter than some of the people around me who were not "overweight". Even when I'm very lean, I'm at the heavy end of the scale.

I guess the first time I realized this was in college when we measured body fat on everyone in my health class. I was in with the guys with a % fat in the low teens. The girls in the class were coming out 25% fat or more. One particularly willowy thin girl was 28% fat. We had to talk about that. How could she be such a high percentage? She would be "healthy weight" according to the BMI index, or maybe underweight. But in fact she was quite sedentary and ate like a bird. She didn't have much appetite.

There's no moral to the story.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 9th, 2007 10:00 pm (UTC)
You're completely right about the BMI and other such generic weight measures. I'm 6'2" and I'm supposed to be 180 or 185. I WAS that weight in high school and was called "emaciated".

Now I range between 215-225 (my weight fluctuates a lot), and I feel much more natural. In my opinion, I'm STILL too thin... especially around the ribs and collar bone.

I have strong, healthy bones (never broke one). This makes me heavy. I am not, nor have I ever been, "fat".
Dec. 9th, 2007 11:24 pm (UTC)
Yep, you're in the same category as me. And then there are all the people who have the same weight to height ratios as us but no muscle at all.
Dec. 10th, 2007 12:20 am (UTC)
This is a picture of me from this summer. According to BMI I am not just "overweight," but actually "morbidly obese." (6 ft., 230 lbs)
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Dec. 10th, 2007 01:10 am (UTC)
I think you're a ways from morbid. =-]
Dec. 10th, 2007 03:11 am (UTC)
I've been thinking about this a lot. Particularly as thin at any cost is the cultural standard. I'd love if strength was what we would look towards and talk about over skinny and fat.
Dec. 17th, 2007 02:21 am (UTC)
Why strength? Why not just health?
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )



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