The result is that America has become unhealthier and less physically capable during the pandemic than it was before. And it was no spring chicken to begin with: According to the CDC, 42 percent of the country was considered medically obese as of 2018. The vicious cycle doesn’t stop, either, with lockdowns encouraging obesity and obesity exacerbating the effects of the virus. In many jurisdictions, being above a certain weight enables one to get the coronavirus vaccine sooner, creating a perverse incentive to remain unfit.
“Medically obese.” OK, look, I would never deny that junk food and sedentary living make many people unhealthy and overweight. I am not a member of the fat-acceptance, beautiful-at-any-size cult. But when you follow some of Butler’s links to look into the definition of this intimidating term, you find:
Overweight is defined as having a body mass index of 25 or more, while obesity is defined as having a BMI of 30 or more.
I’m 5’9″ and 198 pounds. According to the printout from my last visit to the rheumatologist’s a month ago, my BMI is 29.10, which makes me borderline obese. Yet my body fat percentage is between 12-13%, which puts me past “ideal” into the “lean” category for my age. I know this because I have a nutrition update every two weeks, where I get my measurements done, using both a tape measure and skinfold calipers. When I started doing this in August 2019, I was 169 pounds with 15% body fat. I’ve added thirty pounds of muscle since last spring while burning several pounds of fat. I still fit into the same clothes that I did then (though this fine booty fills out the seat of my pants a bit more now). My BMI was probably “healthiest” when I got out of the hospital a few years ago following two bouts of pancreatitis due to gallstones, when I weighed around 150 and looked quite gaunt. As others have wryly noted, using BMI as a standard in the vaccine rollout ironically prioritizes some of the healthiest people around. “So…” I began to say. “Why does anyone use it? Good question!” my trainer responded. I’ve lived long enough to see several examples of conventional medical wisdom reverse themselves; I won’t be surprised if, in the not-too-distant future, BMI joins the long list of debunked myths pushed by supposed experts.