Fitness Measure Falls Short

Monday, December 1st 2008, 7:24 pm
By: News 9

It's the issue that won't go away much like the weight most of us need to shed.  State Rep. Richard Morrisette is drafting a bill that would require schools to check the body mass index of students 16 years and under for obesity. 

Morrisette says the school would then send letters to parents informing them as to whether their kids are overweight or underweight.

The Body Mass Index or BMI as it's commonly known is a height-weight ratio used to determine if a person is slightly or drastically overweight. For instance, if you are 5'9, you should weigh 169 pounds.  Anyone weighing more would be considered overweight, according to the BMI chart. 

But in recent years, some health experts raised questions about the BMI because it doesn't factor in muscle and body type. Still, it's the only chart used by the medical establishment to identify weigh problems for adults and kids.

That needs to change.

What's the point of using a questionable system to detect obesity?

Two years ago, News 9 staffers underwent a battery of tests at a station-sponsored health fair. The vast majority of us were considered overweight and even obese, even though most of us, myself included, are pretty active.  Again, the BMI doesn't consider muscle or body type.

Just last week, my niece went through an old family album, scanned and emailed me one of my childhood photographs.  (Yes, that's me in the yellow jumper!) I thought I was about 18 months old in the photograph until my mother informed me, I was actually 9 months old. 

"You weighed 23 pounds at 9 months old," she said. "I never over-fed you. That's just how you were built."

Don't misunderstand me. Childhood obesity is out of control in this country and something needs to be done to get Americans back on track health-wise.  I just don't believe the BMI is the right tool for the job.