e-mail me at billdeg@umich.edu


let's get physical

Today I got a physical. In order to receive officially my Fulbright grant for next year, I must first receive medial clearance. Thus, the physical. Before today, I knew I had a bit of anxiety, migraines (bad last year, now very much under control thanks to meds), and that's about it as far as health problems. The Fulbright people provide a form that asks dozens of questions about family medical history and general wellness, and asks the doctor to conduct a whole battery of tests and such and then sign. I'll be in a major city with hospitals and such (Beirut), whereas some Fulbrighters find themselves in remote locales. So I understand why the form needs to be thorough.

Anyhow, physical went well. Good blood pressure, good EKG results, a strong heart. But as I'm killing time in examination room I happen to look at the BMI chart. Body mass index, which uses height and weight to determine, frankly, how fat a person is. I won't get into numbers, but let's just say my BMI is very bad. That's putting it mildly. I could lose a lot of weight and my BMI would go from very bad to bad. The BMI does nothing to distinguish between fat and muscle. The BMI doesn't take into account how often one exercises (I do cardio at least three times a week--usually more), or what kind of food one eats (I eat too much food, but it's very healthy food) or anything else aside from two numbers, height and weight. That's the sole data the measurement uses.

In the corner of the BMI chart, the logo of a corporate sponsor. The sponsor? A manufacturer of an artificial sweetener. There's a big surprise. A carcinogen-manufacturer telling me I'm unhealthy. Pot, kettle, black.


Nels said...

This is why I refuse to weigh myself. I'll check my blood pressure here at home regularly, but we don't even own a scale anymore. I refuse to weigh what the BMI says I should weigh to be healthy. I remember weighing that much and hating my body and feeling horrible about how I looked. I'll stay obese and focus on other numbers.

bdegenaro said...

Here's a great report on an Ohio State study about "the numbers" --


Amen, Nels.