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Weight

The morning news informed me that, according to the BMI index, Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise are slightly overweight.

This was in the context of offering an even more one-size-fits-all measure of weight: all men with waists of over 40 inches and all women with waists of over 35 inches are overweight. They're right that there's a problem with the system - but I wouldn't say this is an overly constructive replacement.

Comments

( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
tisiphone
Aug. 19th, 2005 09:36 am (UTC)
Wait, that'd mean I'm no longer overweight...
sioneva
Aug. 19th, 2005 09:40 am (UTC)
The concept of one-size-fitting-all in weight is ludicrous--weight is simply not a measure of fitness or health AT ALL and the fact that doctors keep pushing it as such is not only pathetic, but actively harmful, in my opinion.

Which morning news were you watching? If it was BBC Breakfast, I don't even bother most days because if they don't have a scare tactic on obesity at least once a week they seem to feel as if they've failed in their duty to inform the public of our imminent demise due to fast food and binge-drinking! The female anchors they have also tend to be so thin that I find myself wanting to shove food at them!
owlfish
Aug. 19th, 2005 10:03 am (UTC)
My first thought about your comment is that you presumed I was watching television, not listening to the radio! As it happens, you're right on every count, including news program, but it's such a rare novelty for me to watch the news (as opposed to hearing it on the radio or reading it) that I was struck by your observation. And yes, that also means I haven't a clue what the ongoing agenda are of various stations.

Any other helpful observations on media agenda in the UK I should know about?
sioneva
Aug. 19th, 2005 10:23 am (UTC)
To be honest, I was quite certain that it *had* to be BBC Breakfast because the other news programmes (radio and television) that I've seen have never mentioned (or very rarely) anything to do with size! I don't listen to much news on the radio (simply because our only radio is in the second bedroom, which is on the opposite side of the flat from our kitchen/lounge when I'm getting ready in the morning) but I do flip on the TV to have some background noise...but my background noise is not BBC Breakfast very frequently these days!

I don't watch any news programme in the morning now, really--I prefer to go on the BBC website for news, because there they seem to be relatively even-handed. I think breakfast news shows, both here and in the US, are very light and fluffy, unless there's a big news story on. If you're going to watch TV news at all, I'd wait until the evening news, which seems to be rather more serious. Channel 4 news is fairly decent I find as well, if I'm inclined to get my information from television broadcasts at all! ITV 3 news at any time of day is, to my mind, on the level of most American news programmes, which is to say very light and rather histrionic! Channel 5 news is missable--two minute segments at strange times of day that recap headlines and nothing more.

I ought to do more listening to the radio--I think our Freeview box even lets us tune in to digital radio, so I ought to try some of the BBC morning news broadcasts. They have to be preferable to Breakfast, which seems to be the platform for various rants on obesity (particularly the CHILDHOOD OBESITY EPIDEMIC!!!), snarky interviews with conservative politicians (and anyone who happens to disagree with the rather moderately liberal perspective of the Breakfast presenters, be they more liberal or more conservative), and set pieces on light (but very occasionally well-handled) topics like childcare, disabilities, or other heartwarming subject matter.

owlfish
Aug. 19th, 2005 10:57 am (UTC)
Thank you for a sense of what some of the other channels are like. What about the different radio stations for news?

I too am getting most of my news from the BBC's website, with occasional supplements by the websites of newspapers from other countries.
sioneva
Aug. 19th, 2005 11:23 am (UTC)
I honestly haven't listened to much radio news--because I mostly listen in the mornings as I'm getting ready for work and the radio is on the opposite side of the flat I've just not bothered, really.

So we can try out the stations and compare notes! I'm guessing BBC radio news is probably the most comprehensive but that's just because I'm still biased towards it, I suppose, my disenchantment with Breakfast notwithstanding!
owlfish
Aug. 19th, 2005 01:49 pm (UTC)
I'll keep you posted on my listening-to-radio research.
fjm
Aug. 19th, 2005 05:06 pm (UTC)
No competition really, it has to be Radio 4.
aca
Aug. 19th, 2005 09:48 am (UTC)
It's not a constructive replacement, no, but then it's not supposed to be a replacement, just another rough measure people can easily apply to themselves. No better or worse then BMI and sufficient for the majority of the population.

Yes, everyone is different, but it is a widely held medical view that excessive bodyweight, particularly fat around the midriff, is a health risk. Better to get people thinking about it and give them a few ways at guestimating whether they should be concerned or not than to ignore the problem for being too specific to the individual. The trick, when addressing such a wide audience, is how to make the techniques applicable to most people without making them too complex. Sadly the accuracy has to give to allow this.
owlfish
Aug. 19th, 2005 10:12 am (UTC)
While I understand your point - and it's not wrong as a blanket statement - I am equally aware of all the complications and problems which arise with edge cases - and there are plenty of people who don't fit average body size numbers. Also, BMIs are widely used by the medical community as a gauge of appropriate weight, even to the point of ignoring what that means for all the people who don't fit sweeping statements.

A 35 inch waist won't necessarily look at all healthy on someone with a 28 or 44 inch chest, for example. Also, I have friends whose root medical conditions have not been taken at all seriously by doctors because of their weight. (Keeping in mind that my understanding of the doctors' prejudices in these matters is seen entirely through my friends' frustrations with particular doctors' unwillingness to at least consider the symptoms more holistically.)
aca
Aug. 19th, 2005 10:39 am (UTC)
Oh indeed. BMI as a measure is inaccurate for me, suggesting that I should be, at a maximum, 13.5st for my height. Presently I'm 17.5st which, whilst overweight, is not the vast obesity suggested by my BMI.

I'm also with you on the stubbonness of GPs to stick to the NHS party line and not actually listen to what people are saying. What frustrates me is being treated like I'm ignorant and patronised is not what I'm looking for in a health provider.
a_d_medievalist
Aug. 19th, 2005 05:51 pm (UTC)
Either way, a woman would have to be pretty big (I'm talking height and bone structure) to be have a 35" waist and not be overweight. I'm a very average height and build, and hit my top weight last spring, and still wasn't close to that -- and I was easily 40-odd pounds more than was healthy, and 50 more than when I ran 15-20 miles a week. The measurement seems no worse than any other ... one should worry if one is at that point, not use the fact that one isn't as an excuse.



sioneva
Aug. 19th, 2005 10:39 am (UTC)
While it's a widely held medical view, it doesn't mean that all of the factors that COULD be taken into consideration *are* taken into consideration. Weight becomes the sole indicator of health, without equal (or perhaps greater!) emphasis being given to what may be the *real* factor in our overall health, our fitness level. Weight becomes targeted as the scapegoat for all health problems that a person might have (or at least the vast majority). Everything from asthma to cancer to fertility is blamed on weight and frequently unfairly so--underlying health issues may well be there completely irrespective of weight (and often are more related to fitness than size) but the media covers only the "obesity epidemic!!!" with a rather histrionic approach.

I think this is exactly where I take issue--even though I have medical problems that may actually be *causing* some of my trouble with weight, I'm told that as a blanket solution I should lose weight and all my health troubles will be over, completely disregarding the fact that, when all is said and done, I've had many of these health issues for quite some time, through thick and thin, so to speak!

There are far fewer media slots devoted to problems like binge drinking (and associated health risks), STDs, smoking, etc. that probably apply to very nearly as many people as the weight panic but get no coverage because society is fat-phobic...and all of those above issues are far more dangerous to the people with whom the individual is in contact than my weight will ever be to the people around me!

When a study comes out (as more and more are) proving that overweight *isn't* anything like as dangerous as has been stated in the past it receives next to no media coverage, but any study pointing out even a miniscule risk for those who are overweight gets slot after slot on the BBC's morning news. That is why I personally take issue with the obesity panic and think that if generalisations are to be made, they need to be made about everyone, not just the scapegoat of fat people shown headless reaching for a biscuit or walking down the high street.

(Anonymous)
Aug. 19th, 2005 12:28 pm (UTC)
not just the scapegoat of fat people shown headless reaching for a biscuit or walking down the high street.

Oh yeah. What always scares me about that footage is that they run so much of it I suspect the tv stations of retaining a professional "fat cam" guy who goes around surreptitiously filming people from the neck down.
moon_custafer
Aug. 19th, 2005 12:29 pm (UTC)
Oops. This is moon_custafer btw - I forgot to log in.
sioneva
Aug. 19th, 2005 12:36 pm (UTC)
I wonder the same thing! It's always different footage of presumably different fat people and they NEVER HAVE HEADS! As if being fat is something to be hideously ashamed of and they KNOW they'll get sued if they show faces to go with the bodies.

I don't know any other group of people that gets shown that way--children's faces are blurred, sure, but only fat people are shown from the neck down, as if we're too shameful to see (and have no identities--we're just the scary fat masses!).
a_d_medievalist
Aug. 19th, 2005 05:57 pm (UTC)
OTOH (and I am really in agreement with you on most of this), being overweight does contribute to some conditions -- diabetes, for example; I think the jury's still out on breast cancer. And I seem to remember (but could be wrong) that some organs function less effectively in an obese body -- although again, that could be a reflection of the eating/drinking/exercise habits that make one obese ...
maxineofarc
Aug. 19th, 2005 11:27 am (UTC)
While it's true that the BMI index is very one-size-fits-all and doesn't really allow for things like dedicated muscle-building, I think that over-35-inches thing is ridiculous. I know I'm overweight, and my waist is considerably less than that. Lame!
fjm
Aug. 19th, 2005 05:08 pm (UTC)
While it's true that the BMI index is very one-size-fits-all and doesn't really allow for things like dedicated muscle-building

Or a bust. My BMI would be fine if I was a B cup.
aquitaineq
Aug. 19th, 2005 02:49 pm (UTC)
omg, hottie Brad Pitt overweight? hell no, he's just hot. that is his designation, hot. as for Tom Cruise, not a fan they can call him fat if they want to.
juniperus
Aug. 19th, 2005 03:19 pm (UTC)
Hmm.
*looks down*

Yep. Still fat.
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )