Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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BMI--R.I.P.

His eminence, Herr Schramm, Direktor of the Ashbrook Center, was upbraiding me in public last night for having become a former fat person. (It’s okay, Peter, I told him; I didn’t do it for virtue or health; I did it to make money selling calorie offsets to Al Gore, who obviously needs them.) But he will be pleased with this takedown of the Body Mass Index (BMI), which I’ve always thought was bogus, too.

Discussions - 9 Comments

I am not nor have I ever been a fat person--although pictures of my youth belie that assertion. Nonetheless, I have held a steady weight and waistline over the last twenty years. To be sure, I have developed a bit of a gut (used to be called pot belly), but this is a family trait on both the male and female sides of my family. Truth to tell, I don't exercise as much as I should, my diet is not as healthy as it should be, and my alcohol intake exceeds most doctors' recommendations. Still, I look pretty good (if I can be so conceited).

I say all this because my BMI always disturbs me when I have it done. It is never good, and I know this because I participate in my college's "wellness" program every year. It is a useful program, but it also seems a little intrusive. Nonetheless, armed with my most recent BP, EKG, and BMI readings, I tackle the new year with increased worry about my mortality. By X-Mas, I'm thinking I will exercise more, give up fried foods, and switch to red wine only (I'm not a quitter). Thus far, weak as I am, I never live up to it. Now I hear BMI is a misleading standard. Where am I place my angst now?

For a moment, when I saw the title (of this top entry currently at your blog's home page), I was thinking that yet another person had passed away (that seems to be happening to so many key political leaders, off late...).

I am glad to see that that isn't the case.

And congratulations on the weight loss... Now, it's time to go vegetarian!! :-)

If one takes the Peter Lawler analysis of contemporary American life seriously then it seems to me that one cannot go vegetarian. One finds oneself where one is, and if that is the American south with its politically incorrect food, then so be it. What am I supposed to do--reject three generations of my family present that has made food for me because they love me?

While vegetarianism may be the most healthy way to go--though I have my doubts (without Anthony Bourdain snarkiness)--I remember my freshman year philosophy professor (Dr. Joseph Hynes--a genius in many ways) speaking about his vegetarian roommates and the problems they had with their bowels. Hynes was more indirect than I'm even being, but he spoke of the physiological silliness that can result from vegetarianism. Vegetarians may be healthy but they have bad bowel movements. I know I will hear of dietary ways to offset that, but then I wonder why not eat meat which has a greater degree of satiety? Besides, this is what my family is offering. I must eat, I am hungry, and it tastes good.

Am I supposed to reject the beef and pork ribs that my Aunt offered to me for dinner on July 4th? Am I supposed to say--sorry but I'm a vegetarian? I don't think so. This is an Aunt who has lived a magnificent life and whose mother (my grandmother) lived till 96 fixing me chicken fried steak and biscuits and cream gravy (made from rendered bacon fat).

These hardy women--who seem to outlive the men in my family--serve delicious food to us men. Are they trying to kill us? Not at all. Perhaps. But most of the time they speak of health. They normally feed us rabbit food--when we men are not choosing to eat rabbit food for ourselves.

But as I eat the last morsel of chicken fried steak, I do wonder.

Trust me, the rest of the year it's salad and dry chicken breast.

We all know when we are carrying too much weight. The BMI is silly, but I doubt it is going away any time soon. Medical people like verifiable statistics, which the BMI offers, even when those are misleading. I know Marines who are amazingly fit, but their necks, as thick as a woman's leg, measure them into the ranks of the obese. They get put on absurd diets to lose weight when they haven't got any fat on them, already. It is silly.

Steve's post, as written, reminded me of something my aging father said about his dismay at the thinning ranks of his friends. This is probably not the same thing.

All this is very good and funny. I enjoyed all the comments. Still, the point is this: I trust fat people. Both of us sleep well at nights.

In Georgia, there was recently a scheme that I don't think was actually implemented to report the BMI of public school kids on the report card--as stimulus to parental action. I called it for year or two the "No Child Left with a Behind" policy.

Peter L: I wonder if that's what's required these days to get kids to learn to "work their butts off." Everybody's a fundamentalist now.

Ribeyes and Zin on the house!

When you see pictures of GI's or people who would be "in shape" from 50 years or more ago they do not really look like the long lean muscle yuppie of today. On the other hand, children were not morbidly obese. The childhood thing is a simple combination of food and fear. Cheep proscessed foods full of toxic stuff and beef hormones, and the fear of parents to let their kids simply go play outside. At least we have won some small victories on food in the past few years, not as much "high fructose corn syrrup" in things now.

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