My friend Ron, the only reader of this blog whose keen eye for information and generosity for sharing has resulted in his own category, has passed along an Atlantic.com squib that says that Americans use a billion “extra” gallons of gasoline a year because of obesity.
And I say, whatever. By this snidery, I don’t mean to say I don’t believe it; more so, my reaction is yadda yadda yadda. Yes, I am a wordsmith; it even says so on one of my business cards.
My point is that a mountain of stats — many of them better than this — attempt to quantify the nation’s obesity problem. At the pinnacle is Body Mass Index, the metric the government most often uses. It is nothing more than weight divided by height; a quotient above 25 denotes overweight, and a quotient over 30 piles on with an obesity finding.
Critics point out that many top athletes — who, btw, have wildly atypical bodies — would be considered obese under this calculation. These outliers, the critics say, prove the stat is worthless, which is, to me, dumb — or more specifically, the excuse for people looking for a “proof” that doesn’t exist.
Having said that, I have reservations about BMI, too. It probably isn’t perfect, and not only because it says that I'm obese. Someone suggested to me that hip-to-waist ratio would be better, and maybe it would be. In general, I believe in quantifying a circumstance, as a way to know if it is good or if it ought to change. And, while I’m at it, I believe in independent science, too.
But my point is that we don’t need a lot of statistics to know that America has a huge weight problem. Go to any mall, or any stadium, or any Starbucks (where I am now, at the “coffice”) and look around. Let’s stop with quantifying the all-too-obvious problem and get on to the solutions. This Institute of Medicine report is a great start.