Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Oprah has some advice on how to lose weight. She calls it Zen and the art of weight loss. That’s nice. I have some advice on how to lose weight: eat less and use your body more.

Having an objective is good, too, because, well, we measure weight by the numbers. The obvious number is weight. But another is BMI, or Body Mass Index, which measures weight adjusted for height. To get your BMI you need to know your height in inches, your weight in pounds, and the number 704.5. Multiply your weight by 704.5, then divide it by your height and divide the result by your height again. For example, I weigh 185 pounds and I’m 72 inches tall. I did the math and my BMI is just over 25.

According to the NIH – the National Institutes of Health – over two-thirds of Americans are overweight and one-third are obese. Oooh, that’s heavy. Let’s look at the definitions. NIH defines overweight as a BMI of at least 25 and obese as a BMI of at least 30. Wait a sec. According to this, I’m overweight. Trust me, I’m skinny. Isn’t that what we all say?

The NIH publishes charts of obesity rates over time. The data show a dramatic increase. Just for fun I overlaid Al Gore’s global warming chart over the obesity chart. The graphs matched. Then I overlaid the USA’s health care expenditure chart over the obesity chart (by the way I wonder what Michael Moore’s BMI is). The graphs matched again. Either everyone’s using the same graphs or we have simultaneous crisis that need immediate attention.

Maybe they’re related. If everyone started eating less and working out more, we’d use less fuel – estimates are that if everyone in the US lost 15 pounds we’d save $3 billion a year on gasoline, we’d use fewer resources to make food, and we’d make fewer trips to the doctor and hospital. Our country would be healthier, longer living, more environmentally friendly, and less dependent on foreign oil. Now that’s patriotism! Oooh I gotta go, I’m late for my morning run. Oprah, are you coming?

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