Thursday, December 09, 2010

B.M.I. Schmee. M. I

Yesterday we went in for the routine well-chiled checks.  Our kids have been amazingly healthy, so I thought we'd just go in for the routine, run-of-the-mill check weight, height, what color is your hair now check-up.  The appointment was pretty much that, except for ONE little thing that gnawed at me all day.  B.M.I.

At the appointment, after checking the kids' weight and height we went to the examination room.  The doctor examined each child one by one.  But at one point she leaned over to me and said something like, "See this number? (It was on the bottom corner of the height/weight chart). I'm not concerned about it, but we'll watch it to make sure it remains within 'the range'."  WHAT??  My brain was trying to wrap itself around what she just said.  Did she just say that one of our kids, who eats healthy, well-balanced meals, plays year-round sports, with a perfect little body is on the "fat watch list?"  Maybe I was just over-reacting and the BMI is not really what I thought it was.  So I went home and did what I do best.  Research.

What I discovered when I got home bothered me even more.  Perhaps I'm the only one who thinks the government is over-reaching in so many areas of our lives.  I may be the only one who thinks government tracking of our weight and height is not a good thing.  But, I'm sure there are many others who feel the same. 

So what is BMI?  According to Wikipedia, "The body mass index (BMI), or Quetelet index, is a heuristic measure of body weight based on a person's weight and height. Though it does not actually measure the percentage of body fat, it is used to estimate a healthy body weight based on a person's height, assuming an average body composition."  What I also found is a portion of the “stimulus” bill requires doctors and hospitals to track everyone’s BMI electronically and report it to the federal government beginning in 2014.  Really?  And furthermore I read some schools have been recording a child's BMI on their report card.  Seems out of the school's responsibility to me.  Can you imagine the report card?  "Look honey, Jimmy got an A in English, a B in Math, and what's this?  Oh no, he's got a C in BMI"

From what I read there are many issues with relying on BMI.  One is that it doesn't consider lean body mass, so a very lean, muscular person will/can show up as overweight.  Also, a very tall slender person may also have a BMI that is over the limit.  A friend commented that guys in the army, whom she knew, didn't "pass" their BMI tests because it showed they were "overweight" yet they measured only about 10% body fat.

I completely recognize there is a weight issue in America that needs to be addressed, but having the government tracking us with inaccurate tests doesn't seem to be the answer. 

Well, off to another "check-up" appointment.  Let's hope the dentist doesn't have any wacky surprises for us.

1 comment:

Cristinejoy said...

Well I guess they'll just put us old fatties "down" (vet terminology.)