Maybe our problem isn’t weight but scales

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 6, 2010

Everyone has heard that America has an obesity problem. Well, maybe the problem is how we define obesity.

Not to say that there aren’t challenges that our country faces and that many Americans are not, in fact, overweight, but the reality is that the system used to calculate this seems to be flawed.

I got a lesson in this first hand a few weeks ago by taking some health screenings. I decided to participate against my better judgment. Typically, I don’t do those things because I feel that I’m healthy.

Email newsletter signup

If doctors look hard enough they will find something. But I decided to participate in a variety of screenings including cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose, body mass index and a few others

Boy, was I in for a rude awakening. Apparently I’m a walking heart attack.

My cholesterol is dangerously high. My blood pressure is much higher than it should have been — probably driven up by the tests they were giving me — and my glucose is too high as well.

And, to top it all off, I’m obese.

Yep that’s right, I am obese.

I don’t feel obese. I would argue that I don’t look obese but, according to these wizards and their measuring system, I am in fact 10 pounds into the obese category. I’m about 5’10” tall and weighing in at 185 pounds.

I think that this is part of the problem with the panic stricken state of our country in terms of childhood obesity and other measures.

Many Americans are probably overweight in some cases. But does the body mass index measure give us a truly accurate representation?

If this system is as flawed for everyone else as I believe it is for me this seems to be a factor that would artificially inflate the number of people who are classified as overweight or even obese.

It might be time to find a more statistically accurate way of measuring this rather than trying to use this one-size-fits-all approach.

I admit I don’t get the exercise that I once did, since chasing a two-year-old doesn’t exactly count as cardio.

And I don’t eat nearly as well as I should but I still think that I’m a long ways from obese.

If I was in the body mass index levels indicated I would look like a starving man who hadn’t eaten in days.

But, this revelation has convinced me that health screens are a positive thing.

Now at least I can be proactive about weight, about cholesterol and about these other things.

But if you want a word of advice, I would make sure you wear an old shirt though so that if you get blood splattered across it — as I did — that you don’t add laundry problems to your health issues.

Still, an extra dry cleaning bill is a small price to pay for the key to good health.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at