Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Unlikely Ally

When I saw Cracked.com's list of "6 Fitness Tips Everyone's Heard (That don't work at all)" this morning, I was curious, and a little apprehensive. But pleasantly surprised. Despite the site's overall propensity toward throwing out fat jokes as much as it does casual sexism and other things that make me understand why the site makes some people uncomfortable, they had this to say about BMI:

"If you've ever tried to get fit, you've probably been introduced to the concept of BMI, or Body Mass Index. The concept is over 100-years old, and is totally showing it. BMI is more or less weight divided by height. If it's above a certain number, you're obese.

You can probably already see what the problem with that is. By that extremely oversimplified metric, Reggie Bush (pictured here) ...
... is a big old fatty. You could be 200 pounds of muscle or 200 pounds of fat (give or take some bones and blood or something) and BMI wouldn't know the difference.

That would be bad enough if BMI was just like an astrological sign or penis measurement that you use to brag groundlessly to other people. But it's not just a frivolous vanity stat, it's something that's being used to judge pretty important things, like whether you can apply for a job as a cop or firefighter, certain military jobs, or whether you can undergo surgery.

It might not be exactly the same as evaluating job applicants by reading the length of their lifeline on their palm, but it's pretty close. And do you really want anything to do with a system that has no place for guys like this?"

It was a nice little surprise, and to think of BMI as something along the same level of scientific reliability as your star sign felt like a good way to frame it. The list also features myths about eating breakfast making you lose weight, and fitness tips unrelated to weight at all like running barefoot. (Swear, one day I'll get my rant up about the Wii Fit, and the way "fitness" seems NEVER to be defined as anything other than weight-loss exercise.)

I should be sure to mention that the article does still, for the most part, subscribe to Calories-In-Calories-Out, and those who are very sensitive to statements like "Of course working out and eating less will make you more fit" might still want to stay away. I don't use the word "ally" in the title here to mean that Cracked is magically a Fat Acceptance space. Just that, given the fact that the writer of the article does say things like that, I was surprised and pleased to see BMI given the dismissal that it deserves.

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