Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Two recently released reports have left me a bit confused. 

The reason for my confusion, one study says more Americans than ever are fat, and the other study says that being fat may not determine disease risks.

The first study, by the Trust for America’s Health, was called  “F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies are Failing in America 2008” and was released August 19.

“F as in Fat” uses data from the federal government’s Behavioral Risk Factor Survellance System, and categorizes people based on Body Mass Index.  A BMI for someone of normal weight is less than 25, overweight from 25 to 30 and obese is 30 or over.

Body Mass index is calculated as: [weight in pounds/ (height in inches X height in inches)] X 703

For a 5’ 8” person, normal weight is up to 163 lbs, overweight 164-190 lbs, obese 197 lbs or more.

The “F as in Fat” report notes that, “Adult obesity rates have doubled since 1980, from 15 percent to 30 percent. Two-thirds of adults are now either overweight or obese. Childhood obesity rates have nearly tripled since 1980, from 6.5 percent to 16.3 percent.” 

It concludes that a national strategy should be created to address the obesity epidemic, and calls for “a comprehensive, realistic plan that involves every agency of the federal government, state and local governments, businesses, communities, schools, families, and individuals.  It must outline clear roles and responsibilities and demand accountability.  Our leaders should challenge the entire nation to take responsibility and do their part to help improve our nation’s health.”

But two days, later, the Archives of Internal Medicine published “The Obese without Cardiometabolic Risk Factor Clustering and the Normal Weight with Cardiometabolic Risk Factor Clustering,” (Dr. Rachel Wildman, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York).

The title may be a mouthful, but the study itself was simple. In it, 5,440 participants were divided into categories based on their BMI and then tested for six indicators of cardiometabolic health. The basis for this test was the “recognition that the disease risks associated with obesity may not be uniform.”

Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.