The BS of BMI Report Cards

grade on curveSeveral readers sent me news stories today about how Massachusetts schools are now testing the Body Mass Index (BMI) of students and sending letters home to parents letting them know if their child’s BMI is “too high” or “too low” and suggesting that they see a medical professional to help their child get to a “healthy weight.” Charming. Let’s look at some of the many, many reasons that this is a bad idea.

First of all, putting the focus on kids’ weight is a horrible idea. According to research from the University of Minnesota “None of the behaviors being used by adolescents (in 1999) for weight-control purposes predicted weight loss[in 2006]…Of greater concern were the negative outcomes associated with dieting and the use of unhealthful weight-control behaviors.”  In the last decade hospitalizations for eating disorders for kids under 12 are up 119%.  Kids.  Under.  Twelve.  Kids are plenty focused on their weight – they don’t need the Massachusetts government’s help.  Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, an obesity research, said “I don’t think that it’s the role of the school to be the schoolyard bully. These six- and seven- and eight-year-olds who are going to get letters sent home, they’re not suffering from an epidemic loss of willpower. We’re not dealing with that here…Simply putting it on the kids is putting them at increased risk for bullying and increased risk for pressures at home.” I agree.

A focus on weight as a substitute for health does disservice to kids of all sizes because of the “healthy weight” fallacy.  When we try to make body size a middle man for health we tell fat kids that their healthy habits don’t make them healthier unless they make them thin (which is not what the evidence suggests), and we tell thin kids that they are healthy because of their size and regardless of their habits (which is also not what the evidence suggests.)

The use of BMI is another issue here.  BMI is always problematic as a health measurement predominantly because it’s, well,  not a health measurement – someone’s weight in pounds times 703 divided by their height in inches squared is NOT a health measurement. BMI was created as a tool for statistical analysis of the average body size of large populations.  It was never meant to be used as a health measurement at all, let alone for individuals.  As a simple ratio of weight and height BMI doesn’t take into account any actual health measurements, body composition (Tom Cruise is obese based on the BMI scale), or anything other than weight and height.  So again, even if someone believes that being fat is bad, BMI would still not be a good tool to use.

It’s even more problematic with kids than with adults because it completely fails to acknowledge not just a natural diversity of body sizes and body compositions, but also natural fluctuations in kids’ weight. If a kid gets their BMI report card taken when they’ve put on weight before a growth spurt, and their parents take them to a doctor who puts them on an diet and restricts their calories, how does that affect the kid’s growth and health? Since dieting hardly ever works, these programs are using other measures of success, one of which is an INCREASE in kids who are indicating that they are concerned about their weight.  Since research by Peter Meunnig from Columbia found that women who were concerned about their weight had more physical and mental illness that those who were fine with their size regardless of their size, this seems like a pretty questionable measure of “success.”

Even if someone believes that all fat kids would be healthier thin, we do not know how to get it done; and saying repeatedly that we do is just a lie that has been repeated so often that people believe it’s the truth. Dr.Freedhoff has called these “non-evidence based interventions.” The CDC has admitted that there isn’t sufficient evidence to recommend these BMI Screening programs.  There is not a single statistically significant controlled study where even a simple majority of kids were able to change their weight long-term.  Anything that is prescribed to kids for weight control is experimental medicine at best, and at worst it’s an intervention that’s been demonstrated by research to fail – and it’s typically prescribed without the consent to the child or the parent, violating the ethical principles of evidence-based medicine and informed consent.  Can you imagine the uproar if kids who were actually sick were shamed for being sick, prescribed treatments that studies had shown to not work, often making the sickness worse, lied to that “everyone who tries hard enough” gets cured on these treatments, and then were blamed and shamed when the treatments didn’t work.  To be very clear, body size is neither a disease nor a diagnosis but if the medical establishment is going to treat it that way then the least they could do is practice ethical medicine.

Parents are allowed to opt-out but many are saying that they were not notified in advance and so kids were forced to submit to a weigh in at school that their parents would have vigorously opposed.

All of this is another dangerous example of people substituting what they think is “common sense” for actual evidence.  Let’s be clear about what’s happening here – lawmakers have decided that kids’ body size is such a big “problem” that they should just start “doing something about it” and what they should do is the first thing that comes into their heads – even if there is no evidence basis for it, even if evidence exists suggesting that it’s actually dangerous and likely to cause harm, they believe that their common sense is a better guide than science when dealing with the health of kids.  Yikes.

This entire thing is completely unnecessary. We could have a complete discussion about health and healthy habits for kids without even once bringing up weight.  There aren’t different healthy habits based on body size, and so there is no need to pull weight into the conversation, let alone force kids to participate in weigh-ins.  We can do better.  Let’s.

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Wednesday:

The Positive Body” @ 7:30pm in Gamble Auditorium, Mount Holyoke University

Thursday:

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Published in: on February 27, 2013 at 11:51 am  Comments (59)  

59 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I am in MA and I am just floored at how presumptuous this is. My daughter hasn’t gotten weighed at school but if this happens you can bet there will be a long ranty letter written to the school board and presented in person. The thing about fat oppression is, the more you learn about it, the more you see evidence of fat oppression EVERYWHERE.

    Which UMass are you going to be at? If it’s UMass Boston, I can make it. Have you ever considered speaking to high school kids?

    • Hi Chissy,

      Thanks for the comment I agree once you open your eyes the ubiquity of this stuff becomes painfully obvious. I’ll be at UMass Amherst tonight.

      ~Ragen

      ________________________________

      • Good luck you will be stunning I am sure!

  2. My 6 year old is in the tenth percentile for height and the 30th for weight. (so short and small) but for kids it isn’t just BMI but your *percentile * BMI. Hers was apparently near the line for obese (85th percentile, I believe) The pediatrician spoke about restricting what she eats or changing it.! I was speechless. She is the littlest kid in her class and was still in a 5 point harness car seat at 5 because she is so petite. I was truly dumbfounded.

    • A pediatrician spoke to you about putting a SIX YEAR OLD on a DIET???? I don’t know if I could have formed a coherent sentence if I’d been in that room at that time. Having issues doing so now and she’s not my child.

      • That’s unfortunately not a new trend. My parents put me on my first diet at 5 with full support of my pediatrician (who used to show me my growth chart – I was also tall – in comparison to the average growth chart and said, “Here’s you, and here are the normal kids.”). I went to my first dietician at age 8.

        Every diet on the earth later, I’m 26 and still fat.

      • I was put on my first diet around 8. I still get mad when I think of it. I wasn’t even very big. And my continued failure made me feel so worthless. And the cycle began.😦

        I completely rejected the idea but in the back of my mind that “you are a bad mom” voice whispered that my daughter is doomed. It is so hard to shrug off all that my doctors, family, and culture has told me my whole life.

        • You’re *not* a bad mom. You’re a good mom for breaking the cycle of putting children on diets and listening to incompetent, scaremongering doctors.

          Trust your guts. No one will ever love your daughter as much as you do, certainly not doctors going on about “Obesity booga booga” or policymakers whose pockets get lined by the diet industry.

          Barbara

  3. In the UK children are now weighed and measured in reception (4-5 yr olds) and year 6 (10-11 yr olds). In recption year we were also given government health questionnaires about how they eat, what activities they do and so on. I opted out of it all and didn’t meet with any argument, but that doesnt completely solve the problem, as for an 11 year old to not be getting weighed when everyone else is, especially if they are not average to slim in size, is in itself embarrasing and stigmatising.

    As for 6 year olds on diets (horror), my friend was told her BABY was too fat. Her baby who was only on BREASTMILK. Yes really.

    • *dumbfounded*

      • We are military and we are asked what I consider invasive questions when the kids get medical check-ups. We eat very healthy but I do not think it is any of my doctor’s business what I feed my kids; especially considering doctors aren’t all that informed on nutrition in the first place. But with each of my three boys I was told at some point that they were too large. I don’t remember exact numbers but my youngest and oldest were given the “too large” diagnosis as babies. I was not told to put them on diets but told we’d have to keep a close eye on them. My second son is 10 and we were told a couple of years ago that he was in a percentile that indicated his weight was too high. I was floored! He is very, very thin. One of the smallest kids on his soccer team!! In fact, all three of my “large” boys are string beans. My oldest son is so tall and so skinny for his age that we have trouble finding jeans he can fit into. Thank goodness for those waist cinchers they started adding to jeans! But how skinny are we supposed to be?!!

        • Proof that the BMI is COMPLETE AND UTTER BULLSHIT.

        • Sorry. I don’t seem to have the Sanity Points available to purchase lower case letters on my keyboard today. *sigh* I’m getting triggered right and left by this aggravating subject and one in another arena.

    • When I was born, my Mum got told repeatedly by the nurses on the ward that I ate “too much” and that she should “shorten the feeding”. They actually told her to unlatch me from her breast before I was done.

      First diet age 4.

      First appetite suppressant course age 9.

      High volume liposuction age 14.

      Total years I was made to diet or dieted because of scaremongering by doctors or in an attempt to get approval from a few relatives who were emotionally and verbally abusing me: 26.

      I’ll be 40 this coming fall and I’m still fat. I do believe that I’m way fatter than nature ever intended me to be because of having been made to diet so early in my life.

      • Ditto. We’re about the same age and I’m having trouble dealing with my anger regarding my forced dieting at such a young age.

      • My mum told me I was always a big eater and even as a baby would “finish my bottle and want more”…. yes and? She restricted my food (in quantity and type) all my life and put me on my first true diet at 13. I was on and off diets from then until age 24 and then progressed onto restrictive eating plans (giving up all sugar for example) to deal with my “food addiction”. I look at pictures of me as a chld and I see a child who varies between average sized and skinny until puberty, when I gained a little puppy fat (which is why I was put on the diet- 130lbs at 5ft 2in and yep I grew two more inches after that).

        I will also be 40 this autumn and am now very heavy. I have a joint condition (weak collagen) and my size does not do me any favours in that regard. It makes me so angry that my relationship with food and my metabolism were wrecked in this way. I have been able to make positive changes since I discovered HAES and Matt Stone’s work, but a lot of the damage is already done.

      • I think I am too – when they make us diet so young, I believe our metabolism is destroyed. There’s nothing we can do to get it back to the level that it would have been. I’m sad for all of us. Our childhoods were lost and we have permanent damage. BUT – we sure are blessed to now know that these things are wrong and we know enough not to pass it on to our own children. I am still struggling with self-image, but at least I know that the way I look isn’t all because I eat too much!

  4. The cruel irony…one of my heroes comes to MA to speak during the exact week I’m going to FL on vacation. This sort of stuff is evil, not just misguided but flat out evil. I wonder if well see an upsurge in homeschooling or alternative Ed due to this.

  5. I’d for this to lead to a class action lawsuit for promoting eating disorders.

    • I kinda hope it does. It seems like lawsuits are the only thing that change behaviors in this country anymore.

  6. thank you for this article, I’ve only begun to see what has been happening to my daughter all these years, she was bullied most of her years in school, targetted because of her size and shape. Now that she is seventeen, stays at home, is mostly isolated, I see where I as her mother have not helped her due to my own ignorance around fat shaming. I realize it goes all the way back to my own shaming as a child, and I thought I could “protect” her from the same fate. I only added to her shaming and feelings of not being accepted.

  7. I can’t believe that. I’ve been put on diets/dieting since I was in elementary school and it never did a single thing positively for me (or my sister). Perhaps I would be taller and actually hit a growth spurt in my life if I hadn’t been dieting since I was in 3rd grade!
    Is there no petition for this?

    • I do believe that two young ladies in my family are diminuitive in stature at least partially due to dieting at very young ages. They are smaller in every regard in comparison to the majority of their relatives. They also had issues with being nutrient deficient at several points in their lives thus far.

    • You know, I have been wondering about this for a few years now.

      Physically, I take a lot from my father’s side of the family. To the point that my father was able to identify me in the nursery before anyone told him which crib I was in, because I looked so much like his mother.

      People on his side of the family are just *big*. Males and females. They’re both large and tall. All my paternal aunts and most female cousins are way taller than the average woman in my country.

      I’m not. I’m average height. It could be that I got those particular genes from my mother’s side of the family, but I can’t help wondering if being made to diet at an early age and having been made to take appetite suppressants from age 9 through most of my adolescence didn’t play a role. I’m pretty sure it did.

      Barbara

  8. Ah yes, the classic response to ‘won’t SOMEBODY think of the children???’ panic.

    A: Decide something must be done.
    B: Pull some asinine, utterly useless at best and highly damaging at worst concept out of the collective… well, asses of people racing around like Chicken Little.
    C: Decide that since this is something, this is what must be done.
    D: Discover after the damage has been done that the ‘solution’ leads to all manner of negative side effects far, far worse than leaving the situation alone until a more nuanced response could have been worked out.
    E: Blame all the damage on the victims of the ill-conceived program thrust upon them.

    There are times when I really do lose heart with humanity, albeit only temporarily.

    • Excellent analysis, Twistie! Thank you so much for sharing it.

      Barbara

  9. I went on my first diet in third grade – and that was over 30 years ago. Without the pressures we are seeing now with all the misinformation about this so called war on obesity. I was on a diet pretty much non stop from that point on in my life and it has RUINED my metabolism and I still struggle with the ways it has ruined my self image. No one will ever be allowed to treat my child in this manner and get away with it. People in MA need to start writing letters, and the rest of us in other states need to be vigilant not to let this kind of activity spread! The more aware I become of the social injustices regarding weight the more ANGRY I become. And Chrissy is right – you start to see it everywhere. NOT OK!!!!!!

    • Wow, there are so many of us. As long as we’re swapping résumés, here’s mine:

      Age 4: my mother continually screaming, ‘what are you going to do about your weight?’ Age FOUR. WTF?

      Age 9: dear old Mum put me on a nice 1970s no-carb diet. Ah, school memories: now we add ‘starving’ to ‘getting bullied for being fat/having glasses’. FML. Simultaneously, my brother Mr Slim gets swimming and karate lessons at the Y. Why the hell couldn’t I have gotten karate lessons? You know, get strong AND be able to fend off bullies? Also: not have to starve?

      Weight-cycling ensues. By the time I am 20, my mother signs me up for the liquid-protein diet Optifast, and the doctors tell me I have the lowest metabolism they’ve ever seen.

      We all know the rest of the story: lose weight. Gain it all back and then some. Apply self-hatred and draconian diet, occasionally calling it a ‘lifestyle change’ cuz, yanno, ‘just eat less and exercise more’😛 Try try try, lose weight, gain it all back and then some, hate hate hate, starve starve starve, sometimes it works, mainly not, rinse lather repeat. Added bonus: at the low points in the weight, it’s never ‘ok, now I’m fine,’ it’s ‘just five more pounds and then I’ll be perfect.’

      Fast forward to now. Am at my heaviest. Discover HAES and FA. Begin to put together for the first time in my life that actually, ::I:: am not the one full of shit here. Visit folks at home: explain HAES to Fat-Hatin’ Mama. ‘Oh, that’s great. But you know, weight loss could help with your joint problems’ (which started because of a ski accident when I happened to be thin). In one ear, out the other. No idea that maybe, just maybe, the very efforts to stuff me into a Tiny Girl box starting at age 9 helped me get here.

      Crown jewel of the visit: relatives fat-shame me. On my birthday. Welp, so long and thanks for the physical and emotional damage, I guess. Meanwhile, if I can do anything to stop this from happening to any more kids, hell, ANYONE… I AM SO ON BOARD to fight this. What a LOUSY thing to do to your children, who have no defences and no advocate except THEIR PARENTS. It would have helped so much if they’d been on my team.

      • The craziest thing is that they think they are. *Hugs*

        • You’re absolutely right! It just doesn’t seem to occur to them that it’s vastly healthier to equip a ‘different’ child with skills to deal with an often-hostile world, RATHER THAN trying to smash that child into a mold s/he doesn’t fit.

  10. I think it’s important for parents to realize that they can – and should – opt out of this bullshittery, and make some serious noise if this happens without their consent and knowledge. Even if they do believe that knowing their child’s BMI is a good thing, it’s not the school’s place to 1. take the child’s weight and 2. make a diagnosis on it, because they are NOT medical professionals. I’m hoping some lawsuits come out of this – if anyone can question the system and stand up for their rights it’s the people of Massachusetts (having lived with one for quite a while now).

  11. So, the other day I was looking for something to do and decided that the Chocolate Soiree would be really fun. Before I bought tickets I wanted to see what the proceeds would be used for and to my horror discovered that the Toledo Junior League will be using the funds to…..well, you can read below or at this link http://www.juniorleaguetoledo.org/toledo/npo.jsp?pg=action.

    I could go on forever about how nuts this whole thing is but I am sure if you are reading this blog you can script your own rant. The sad part is that this is the same group the built a Ronald McDonald house a few years ago and has done so many other things that really benefited children and families. Apparently, they have traded real help for junk science. ) :

    Our Community Projects

    The Junior League of Toledo, Inc. is a volunteer organization of women dedicated to building a better community. Each of our outreach programs is designed to provide maximum benefit by combining the efforts our league volunteers with community partnerships and direct financial support provided by our fundraiser, Chocolate Soiree.

    Our Focus
    Addressing the Epidemic of Childhood Obesity

    The urgency to address this growing concern has been highlighted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that indicates the number of overweight children aged 6-11 has more than doubled over the past three decades. Unfortunately, an estimated 70% of overweight children have at least one additional health risk factor such as heart disease, but the problem doesn’t stop there. Being overweight as a child increases the likelihood of being overweight as an adult, which can lead to additional health concerns like type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer and osteoarthritis. View our Community Impact Project link descriptions to the left to view what the Junior League of Toledo is doing to address these issues.

  12. Like so many others here, I was put on a diet by a doctor when I was in 5th grade. I look at my photos from before then and see a beautiful, HEALTHY little girl who was GIVEN a God-damned eating disorder by her pediatrician’s paranoia. I would give a lot to go back and sue the daylights out of her.

    • My issues started later. I was in college and told by a doctor that I could stand to lose 10 pounds. Before that point I had been ok with myself. But a doctor must know what they are talking about right? I was young and naive. My quest to lose that 10 pounds turned into me gaining 40 more. Then I started having babies and doing that diet roller coaster after their births. Completely messed up my body (the dieting not the pregnancies). I often wonder what would have happened if I’d just ignored that doctor and not worried about 10 pounds. Then again, as I’ve stated many times before, I’m built just like my paternal grandmother. And I match her in photos at each age. So, it is possible that it would have made no difference what that doctor said. But, IMO, she had no business commenting on my weight in the first place. I just didn’t know that then.

    • I’m sorry you had to go through that. I can very well relate. Hang on to your rage – it’s a powerful motivator to help you change the sick prejudiced world we live in.

      Hugs.

      Barbara

      • Thanks. I wouldn’t be who I am today if I hadn’t had to deal with that. The disordered survivalist voice in my head wants to say that wouldn’t be a bad thing and while it’s right because I’d still be me (only different), it’s also wrong because there’s nothing wrong with the me I ended up being.

  13. I am so pleased that you’ll be speaking at my alma mater this evening! I’m three thousand miles away and I graduated twenty years ago, but I have very positive memories of MHC. I envy current students hearing you today!

  14. I’m with you! Read about Cupid and his BMI: http://www.dropitandeat.blogspot.com/2011/02/where-bmi-goes-wrong-lessons-from-cupid.html

  15. It is also another example of lawmakers deciding to take over the task of parenting, as they clearly believe that they are better suited to the task than any child’s actual parent.

    If I am a parent, it is my parental responsibility – and RIGHT – to teach my child what I believe is appropriate with regard to health, nutrition, overall lifestyle, religion, sex, etc. I am the parent, I get to do that, and unless I am concretely demonstrating that I am actually causing direct harm to my child by abusing/neglecting her, I’ll thank all the strangers in Congress, the state legislatures, and the public schools who know nothing about me or my family or my history or my values to butt the heck out.

  16. I’m in Boston & wanna come — I’m a plus-size coach, so this is right up my alley. Also, if I got that in the 4th grade I probably would have thought about running away from home — as if getting a C- in math wasn’t bad enough you wanna tell me “And you’re too fat, sweetie!” down.with.shame!!

  17. Ugh!! I actually recall something similar to this happening when I was in school. In 9th grade health class for some reason (and I can’t recall if it was state-mandated or what) the gym teacher weighed each and every one of us, and I think told us where we were on the BMI charts. Our weights were kept private from other students, except the one who was helping him take notes on everyone’s weight. I remember being mortified as hell that he and someone else would know my weight, especially since my weight (like, the actual number of pounds) has always been a terrible trigger for me. To this day I make it a point never to know what the exact number of pounds I weigh, because it will undoubtedly send me into a cycle of self-loathing and depression. I don’t even know what I would have done if a letter got sent to my parents. It’s a horrible invasion of privacy, and I would never wish it on my worst enemy.

  18. Sadly my middle school did that for the whole two years I was there. Of course I was always the biggest and the bullying only got worse. That is really when I went on my first diet.

    The diet did dick all and I lost a total of 90% of my total marks over two years because i was so fat. My mom went to the human rights board and complained, they investigated and from that day forward the schools (middle and high) were no longer allowed to do that. I don’t remember it ever happening in elementary school. It still shouldn’t have happened.

  19. OMG I am so NOT in support of them doing this. How sad!

  20. At 17 years old, I was 6’2″ tall and weighed 107 pounds, according to the doctors at the military induction center. I guess the school health experts these days would have sent my parents a letter telling them my BMI was too low, and that I should see a doctor about getting to a “healthy” weight. I’m not sure what a doctor would have done. Like most teen-aged boys, I ate food like it was going out of style, and just didn’t put the weight on.

    By the way, that stupid line about, “You can’t be too rich or too thin”? Total BS. The self-apointed enforcers of teen conformance harassed me because I was too skinny as well. The reality is, if you don’t fit the current idea of “awesome,” then you’re considered fair game for humiliation.

    • This is so true. There was a girl in my high school class who was very tall and very skinny and she was teased to extremes. Ya gotta fit the mold or you fail. *smh*

  21. I started my first diet (WW) at age 9 after my pediatrician told my mother I would be diabetic by age 20 if I didn’t lose weight. Well, I am closing in on 50, still very fat, and not diabetic. Doctors just don’t get it.

  22. My 6 month old nephew just now going on 6 months was told 2 months ago he was “too fat” by his pediatrician. I was floored when my sister told me they suggested she cut back on his formula. We just now put him on baby food so the only thing he was consuming is formula which is basically powdered vitamins with water. Though babies can’t understand, but as a fully grown adult woman, being on a liquid diet and then being told to cut back before I become a scary fatty Mcfatty pretty much would make me want to go into hiding. It’s so sad to see children be subjected to this kind of treatment regarding their weight big or small. When did we begin to totally ignore anatomy and science when it comes to the health and weight discussion? I’m so sad for this. I don’t even understand why the BMI is still used as a scientific measuring tool for health? I lost weight around the time I graduated high school and basically starved myself because I couldn’t fit the ROTC uniforms in school, and not being able to get a perfect grade in that because the uniforms were so uncomfortable really did a number on my mind. So I lost weight, it never dawned on me about being healthy at the weight I got to, when I visited the hospital after I got sick my doctor still told me I needed to do something about my weight, keep in mind I was barely chubby after losing so much weight. I was told I needed to keep going and tweak my diet more so I can see better results. Basically starvation was the last resort, several years later I’m fat- ER. DIETS DON’T WORK. And I don’t see how bullying kids like this will prevent them from being big scary fatties in the future. **smh**

  23. My Mother flogged my sister and I about our weight from a very young age (I cannot remember a time that my mother was ok about my weight). So I’ve had a poor relationship with food and dieting pretty much my entire life.

    The first time I remember a doctor saying anything about my weight was when I was at the Military Processing Station. I weighed in just shy of 10 pounds under the max weight for my height. At that time he was required to do a so-called body fat measurement (measured neck, waist, largest part of my rear) and I was, by that measurement, only 2 % under the max body fat. I survived 10 years of weigh-ins and body fat measurements that really put me in a place where I had an even worse relationship with food. I would starve and dehydrate myself, sit in saunas, you name it I did it, all in order to pass a weigh in. I was on a run team, trained for long distance bike rides and really beat up my body–however for about a week before a weigh in I did NO exercise and ate close to nothing to ensure I lost those 5-10 pounds I needed so as to not be placed on the “fat boy” program. Because the fat boy program was the kiss of death. You couldn’t max out your performance review, you couldn’t be promoted, you weren’t elligible to reenlist if you were at the end of your term, and you could actually be kicked out of the service.

    I’m getting better, but my hubby is still in the military and is competing for a position in which adherence to a specific size is especially scrutinized. I want him to get the position, for it will be good for us in the grander scheme of things, but it is SO triggering.

    • Tara, I work on a US military base and I’ve seen my colleagues do some of the stuff you’ve described to get through the fitness tests. I knew one guy who always had a larger-than-average waist – perfectly fit by every other criteria – used to have to work his butt off to get through the tests – then he had an Achilles injury that left him unable to exercise to that degree, and he had to separate. Some of them say ‘Oh, well, if they kept to the weight standard in between times they wouldn’t have to do crazy stuff every time the tests come round, we need a fit military’, but it seems even some people who are doing all the ‘right’ things for health and fitness have trouble with the weight and waist stuff. It does look crazy, and I’m really glad that as a civilian I don’t have to go through any of that.

  24. Wasn’t there a point in time where kids were allowed to have a childhood? The thing I admire MOST about children is how uninhibited they are… apparently, the anti-obesity-crusaders are looking to put a stop to that.

  25. When I was eight, my pediatrician told me that I needed to only drink skim milk or I was going to become fat.

    When my mother found out, she LOST HER SHIT, wrote the doctor a scathing letter about how he was likely inciting eating disorders in his child patients, and never took me to see him again.

    I love my mother so much.

  26. BMI has NOTHING to do with a person’s scholastic abilities. What a crock!

  27. This is nothing new, really. When my (now 17) daughter was in 3rd grade, our local school nurses applied for and got a grant to promote healthy behaviors in the elementary levels of the school. Part of that grant expectation required they record all the BMI stats of the 3rd grade classes. I got not information ahead of time.. just a letter in the mail telling me that my daughter was over 30 and in an ‘at risk’ category. BUT I was told not to do anything about it, not to make any dietary changes or such without checking with a physician.
    I threw a fit!!! I went to the school nurse and raised cain. At that time my chunky lil’ girl was solid as a rock. She could hand over hand on the monkey bars until she blistered… and was told ‘not to do that anymore’ when she went it and got bandaids.

    I told my daughter not to listen to the school nurse anymore and I bought her weight lifting gloves so she could keep swinging on the bars.

    It is frustrating….. and now, my daughter puts herself on diets…with my frustrated, but cautious input about not being damaging to her body. I can’t make her decisions for her, but I can make sure the foods at home are the kinds of things that are healthy.

    For myself, I was put on a diet with my mom at 8. But the worst was at 15, after a forced pelvic exam (my mom was freaked out that her use of hormones during my pregnancy would give me cervical cancer) I sat up, teary eyed, mortified and beaten… to hear the dr say… “so , lets talk about getting you on a diet and loosing some of that weight”

    IT’s taken me years to un-hitch my sexuality and body image/fat hate… and I still have times when I can’t manage it

    • Sexuality and body image are SO intimately linked. God, please help us forgive the things that our parents did to us, and please help our kids forgive the mistakes we make.

      • No kidding. I know my mother was scared to death that something she did to keep from loosing me was going to condemn me to cervical cancer. My head understood that, but my heart and my fear were just too much.

        • I understand. Took me most of my lifetime to *begin* to get over some of that.

  28. BMI may well be BS, but waist measurement is worse. I don’t know whether this is starting in the US, but here in Australia, “they” have now decided that your waist circumference must be below an arbitrary number in order to be healthy. For women, the number is 80cm. I phoned the official, government-sponsored helpline to question this, and the counsellor informed me “research shows the having a waist measurement over 80cm leads to health problems”. Me: “OK, but surely it can’t be correct that a 6′ tall woman needs to have the same waist measurement as a 4’8″ woman?”. Her: “It’s the same no matter what your height is.” Me: “But that can’t be right. Taller people are going to have larger waists, aren’t they?”. Her: “Research shows etc”. At this point I figured out that she must just be reading from a script. But seriously, WTF?!

    • Wow. That is just … that is BEYOND bullshit. Someone with larger bones cannot possibly fit that mold, even if they *were* 4’8″!!! I’m totally gobsmacked.

  29. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8236384.stm

    And just to back me up, here is a link to the study on the correlation between cardiovascular problems and too small thighs.

    “The team at the Copenhagen University Hospital found that those with the smallest thighs – below 55cm – had twice the risk of early death or serious health problems.
    Professor Berit Heitmann, who led the research, said: “The increased risk was independent of abdominal and general obesity and lifestyle and cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure.
    “Additionally we found that the risk was more highly related to thigh circumference than to waist circumference.””

    (If you haven’t written anything on this study yet, please do so, Ragen! I’d dearly love to see how haters respond to this cold truth)


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