Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Hey Fatass!

I know this sounds like a strange question, but it's certainly one that should come up the next time President Bush does one of his rare Q&A sessions in the Rose Garden.

"Mr. President, would you describe yourself as 'fat'?"

See, according to governmental standards, he is. Standing 5'11" and weighing in at 191 pounds, his BMI is 26, a full point above what the government deems "normal".

Now, I've certainly levelled many criticisms against him over the years, and I'm certain that many more are lurking around the corner. But fat? Not one of them.

He's in good company. Using the same scale, George Clooney is overweight. So are Michael Jordan, Johnny Depp, David Duchovny, Bruce Willis, Will Smith, Harrison Ford, Yao Ming, Brad Pitt, Vin Diesel... Need I go on?

And beyond overweight, we have the "obese" category. I don't smell what The Rock is cooking, but the government says it made him obese. So are Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Scwarzenegger and Mike Tyson.

I played around with my own height and weight to see what category I was in. I'm the same height and weight as Nicholas Cage--- Overweight. I could stand to lose a few more pounds, so I'm not arguing with my own classification too much. I decided to see what kind of weight I would have to get down to before the government deemed me "normal".

At 6'1", I would have to get down to 180 pounds. Sorry--- I've weighed 180 before. My ribs were sticking out. I had people asking if I was terminally ill.

It was not my first encounter with the BMI. Several years back, I was working for a national gym chain. As you might expect, during off-peak hours, we'd change clothes and catch a workout. As a result, I was in a shape that I haven't been able to dream about for years now. At the time of my insurance physical when I switched plans, I was 240 and had a bodyfat level that consistently tested in the ten percent range.

Sorry. Obese.

And that's when you cut through the bullshit and get to the real reason for such absurd standards--- Medical insurance companies get to charge more for coverage if they assess you as a risk.

You know, for being overweight.

The government sticks to this standard for one reason and one reason alone--- The insurance industry loves it. It allows them to charge a premium by assessing "extra risk" to the very least likely people to need their services.

We could make a list of the things about the health care industry that need to be reformed, and the list would be so expansive that we could bring the internet to a screeching halt. Most of those reforms would take a lot of time and a radical restructuring of the existing system.

Fixing this is easy. It's low hanging fruit. This is something we could fix next month if the political will can be mustered. And it's not terribly expensive, either.

I did about thirty seconds' worth of Googling. You know, painstaking research and all. You can get an AccuMeasure Fat Track Pro for about $75, about the same amount most hospitals charge for an aspirin. We kept three of them at the gym. While there's no way to certify 100% accuracy, it's certainly a more reliable indicator of fitness than an arbitrary set of numbers that doesn't take into account bone density or lean mass.

And just for fun, until the change is made... If you find yourself in the company of the president, as Nashvillians will this week, don't hesitate to point out the lunacy of this standard by shouting "Hey Fatass!"

One for the road--- Just showing you the government's idea of obesity.

*** Hat tip to Kat Coble at Music City Bloggers for this post, which led me to this page tracking which celebrities are fat.

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