The BMI Change of 1998
I noticed that CNN was running a new scare graphic of fat in the US, linked via digg. And of course there's Dr. Gupta making a guest appearance.
There's one thing that this map, and every map charting the BMI changes, doesn't mention: the US government's redefinition of what it means to be "obese". It happened in 1998.
Check out this article on the then-proposed changes.
Under the proposed guidelines, which are to be announced later this month by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 25 million more Americans would be considered overweight -- including two baseball third-basemen: Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves and Cal Ripken Jr. of the Baltimore Orioles.
People were concerned about the changes - understandably:
[Dr. Judith] Stern and other some critics worry that if the draft guidelines are adopted, doctors might prescribe diet pills for patients considered overweight -- when a little exercise might be all that's needed.
Good thing we don't need prescriptions to poop our pants. Problem solved!
When the BMI change did pass, CNN looked at the specifics.
Using the old criteria, the average woman -- with a height of 5 feet, 4 inches (1.6 meters) and weighing 155 pounds (70 kilograms) -- was considered overweight.
Under the new definition, that weight drops to 145 pounds (66 kg). A person at the same height who weighs 175 pounds (79 kg) would be considered obese.
Look at that again. The average woman is overweight.
This proves once again that the BMI labels are meaningless. If everyone is "overweight", then no one is overweight.