Thursday, April 21, 2011

Body Mass and You

BMI article

In the district where my children go to school, a new rule was instituted a few years ago. They were to be weighed and their BMI, (Body Mass Index) was to be recorded. I was told by the school nurse, (a really nice woman with a long history of doing her job and doing it well), that the rule was required by the state, and it was little more than a formality.

Which got me thinking. Could it be that, at the state level, someone was really, genuinely concerned about childhood obesity, and instituted this rule so as to gather data, and then do something about it? As much as I would like to believe that… uh, no. Sorry. Can’t.

I know first-hand that the folks in charge of food service in our school district do care, and have instituted policies to help make the transition to healthier choices available to my kids. I know they are working hard to exceed the guidelines set forth for them by the state and federal government. There is still a long way to go, but they are working on it. Because of those guidelines, I was wondering why, then, do we need to send the BMI data on our children to some database where who-knows-who can utilize it?

The paragraph below is complete conjecture and conspiracy-minded theory. I have absolutely no proof of this. Consider yourself warned.

Here’s my guess. Insurance companies will have access to that data. As more and more diseases and afflictions are claimed to be rooted in our American Obesity Lifestyle, insurance companies will be able to use this data for two main reasons. 1.) To boost premiums based on a family’s or individual’s obesity level, and 2.) To be able to deny claims using a childhood BMI rating as sufficient information to declare just about any ailment as a pre-existing condition, because almost every affliction known to humans will eventually be traced to obesity as its cause.

There. I said it.

I was a fat kid, with all of the teasing and being picked last that comes with it. Currently, my triglycerides level is double what is “normal” for a human, (just not one from my family). When I asked my doctor about this, she told me that with levels like mine, it is most likely genetic. I can work out like crazy and eat right, and I’ll still have crazy-high levels.

My kids are built just like me. Low-waisted, thick around the middle, with quick minds and a predilection for sitting down. Their levels will most likely be high as well. My wife and I have been instituting better eating habits in our house, like no starch course at dinner and double, (and sometimes triple), vegetables. But, as the saying goes, you can lead a kid to broccoli, but you may have to sit there a while, cajoling and threatening, to make them eat it. As it stands, their BMIs are not at the level that some council somewhere has set as “normal”. Are they to be penalized as adults? If my predictions are true, they and so many others will be.

Why, then, don’t the people in charge of such things put their efforts into stopping federal corn subsidies, which are the main factor in cheap, abundant corn? With so much corn, farmers don’t know what to do with it all, so they sell it to other companies who process it into… say it with me… high fructose corn syrup. Which is basically sugar, and is in just about EVERYTHING we have available to us in the way of processed foods. That is why we are the only country in the world with fat poor people. It’s cheap, it makes everything taste good, and can be found in every single aisle of the supermarket. The healthier food is in the outer ring. Once you go down an aisle, you’re screwed.

So, to recap… Our government makes the production of highly fattening foods massively cheaper than healthy food. Our airwaves are constantly bombarded with ads for such foods, many of the worst kinds targeted directly at children. Our economic system is hopelessly slanted in favor of wealthy people getting wealthier while poorer people get poorer, forcing them to survive on cheaper, processed foods. And then our kids are admonished for not having a healthier lifestyle and penalized, (in the future, if my predictions come true… come on, you know I’m right), for being “obese” based on the BMI data that was collected when they were young.

How long will it be before that information becomes part of the standardized test data? Will our kids have to worry about being accepted by the college of their choice because of their weight?

I’m getting tired just thinking about all of this. Maybe I need a Snickers. The peanuts and nougat will energize me.