This morning one of our local news channels interviewed Florine Mark, the president and CEO of Weight Watchers. She pointed out that the state of Michigan had one of the highest rates of obesity in America. This hit a little too close to home. I've always had to work at keeping my weight under control, and since I've spent the last couple months slacking off at the gym and indulging in too much holiday cheer, my pants are getting snug. So I was prompted to do a little research, fully appreciating the irony that rather than actually exercising, I was looking at fitness rates on my laptop while lounging on the sofa under my dog blanket.
The most recent data I could find came from Trust for America's Health, a non-profit, non-partisan organization, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. They've been researching and issuing an annual report on "The State of Obesity" for more than 10 years. On the positive side, the current report shows that childhood obesity rates have stabilized, and the rate at which adult obesity rates are rising is beginning to slow. On the negative side, adult obesity rates did not decrease in any state, and still remain far too high across the nation.
So...We're still fat, just not getting fatter as quickly as before. Michigan came in at number 11, with 31.5% of adults having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or more. Normal BMI ranges from 18.5 -24.9.
BMI is a simple measure of fatness based on height and weight. Naysayers point out that body mass index calculations don’t distinguish between fat and muscle, nor do they take into account things like a person’s frame size. It's far from an exact science, but it does provide an easy, quick and reasonable estimate for a person like me with an average build and a typical activity level. I've used online BMI calculators to monitor my weight for several years. At 5 feet, 4 inches tall, my "normal" weight range is between 108-145 pounds. That's achieveable for me. Do I stray towards the high end? Yes definitely. And when my weights creeps up over the high end, like it has now, I feel crappy. My joints hurt more, my energy level takes a dive, and my clothes don't fit which lowers my self-esteem. That's my signal to take action.
I'm fortunate enough not to have any physical or emotional issues that impact my health and my weight. I know that the amount I weigh is in direct relation to how often I have a fork in my mouth. I struggle not to judge others when I don't know what's behind their size, although let's be honest, I feel self righteous when my shopping cart contains quinoa and strawberries and yours is full of cheese puffs. And I think it's kind of a sad statement that on those occasions when junk food makes its way into my own cart, I don't feel bad because now I'm just one of the crowd.
So thanks, Florine, for giving me the push I need to put my fork down. If you need a push too, go check out your BMI. And put those cheese puffs back on the shelf.