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April 25, 2005

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Slartibartfast

At peak condition, I had a BMI of 24.5. I was never all that low in body fat, but I was at least a moderately successful swimmer, and swam a minimum of three hard miles a day.

Being a sprinter probably boosted me up a bit, but I've never been below a BMI of about 23, even when I was running 6-8 miles a day.

Neo

No .. no .. let's settle this the America way .. let's vote (no filibusters please) on what is obese, slender, etc.

We could do it as an American Idol-like call in or perhaps have the poll sponsored by McDonalds, Burger King and Wendys having ballots distributed at each franchise.

Matt

You had a BMI of 21.5 and they called you scrawny?

Mine hovers around 19 and my coworkers celebrated this once by hanging one of those cardboard skeletons in my office with a "Hello my name is Matt" sticker on it.

TM

Good point about swimmers! The long-distance outdoor swimmers can look like human seals, with lots of insulating blubber, but they are in great cardio shape.

That puts them at the other end of the spectrum from the skinny, unfit, heroin-chic crowd.

"My name is Matt" - pretty funny. Hard to sue on the basis of discrimination against skinny people.

Victor

Back when I was running marathons ... I knew there was something cool about you. ;)

FWIW, when I was in racing shape back in college, my BMI was 19.5. Not that it really matters anymore, since I now have a spare tire and am up to a hefty 23.7.

Victor

Oh yeah, and I never heard the word "svelte" either. Scrawny, anemic, sinewy, "stickboy", skinny, yes. Svelte no. I feel deprived. ;)

BumperStickerist

hmmmm ... all I've got going for me is four grandparents who made it to their mid-80s along with my parents are now in their mid-70s.

Time to change the batteries in the remote and call Dominos Pizza.

jumbo

Not only are the BMI categorizations screwy, but ever checked the insurance company tables from the 40's up unitl today? To go by them, Adrian Brody in "The Pianist" was a cardiac infarction waiting to happen. Completely unrealistic as time has proved. But why were they so wrong, and why might the BMI categories be wrong as well?

Maybe it's my nature, maybe it's 25 years in law enforcement, but I have a bad habit of asking myself this question when presented with statements of fact: "qui bono". That is, "who benefits", or to whose advantage might such a determination of fact be? Which is just a shorthand way of saying my default position is to scan for evidence of bias, prejudice or interest of the "fact-provider" in any given issue, particularly if insistent or strident.

So who might be behind, or let's just say "in favor of", unrealistic and misleading BMI categories? Well, who started this slanted body-type table thing? Yes, the life- and health-insurance companies. Why does it matter to them? By norming ridiculously incorrect height-weight tables towards the stunted and malnourished (where I'm from we called them "the runts of the litter"), millions of perfectly healthy men and women with optimal life expectancy, could then be rated as "risks" to insure, and charged excessive premiums. Makes for increases of untold billions in premiums collected by the insurance companies, who suffer not the slightest increased risk.

So why would we think the BMI index is slanted? Look, if tobacco companies could pay thousands of doctors and researchers enough money to produce studies over four generations that said smoking was harmless, then why do we think it would be so hard to find docs today who think that it's not unusual (rather, it is laudable) for a 5' 10" man to weigh 135 pounds?

Yes the government is involved in some of these studies and findings, but since when are government scientists or department heads immune to lavishings of largesse from perfectly repsectable industries whose demonstrated interst is the long life and good health of the entire population of the U.S.?

I know, "X-Files" stuff. But the present indices are clearly wrong. And pondering who might benefit from skewed tables could lead to some intersting conclusions.

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