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New Rochelle Board of Education Celebrates "Body-Mass Index Scam"

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New Rochelle Board of Education Celebrates "Body-Mass Index Scam"

July 14, 2009 - 18:07
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B3CCEA48-8F3C-48FC-B112-10E09C3F2DBD.jpgIn 2006 the geniuses in Albany passed legislation requiring every school child in the state of New York to have their BMI (body mass index) calculated and reported to the state. The purpose of this data collection is unstated. The eventual use of this data is unknown.

At its June 2nd meeting Dr. Adrienne Weiss announced with great pride that New Rochelle had been “selected” to participate in this study. What an honor! It would be nice to think that before they popped the champagne corks over at City Hall they might actually understand what BMI does and does not measure and then perhaps even realize that BMI is an utterly pointless statistic when applied to individuals.

6698497F-8951-454B-842E-E956000247C5.jpgTo get a better understanding of just how stupid the BMI is as a measure of the fitness of a particular individual consider the following:

  • In 2005, the Associated Press did a study and found that half of the players in the NBA were "overweight" based on their BMI.
  • The Journal of the American Medical Association did a study that found that half of the players n the NFL were "overweight" based on their BMI.
  • Hollywood movie stars such as George Clooney, Matt Damon, Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, Will Smith and Denzel Washington are all considered overweight based on their BMI.
  • Kobe Bryant is classified as "overweight" and Shaquille O'Neal is "obese".

If you still think the Body-Mass Index is a meaningful measure of fitness, a few minutes listening to Keith Devlin of Stanford University should erase any lingering doubts. Appearing with Scott Simon on NPR's Weekend Edition, Devlin notes that the BMI classifies as overweight the most fit people in our society including Devlin himself, an avid cyclist who logs over 200 miles a week on his bike and has a 32 inch waist.

B6161BA7-544D-4F6D-95E0-8351CB2127A6.jpgDevlin provides a list of the Top 10 Reasons Why The BMI Is Bogus and provides a description of the formula and the CDC Scale. Devlin points out that BMI was developed by a mathematician -- not a physician -- to help the Belgian government allocate government resources based on the obesity of the general population. The formula was created to match the government data; there is no physiological reason to square a person's height to determine fitness. The BMI ignores waist size which is the most obvious and clear-cut indicator of obesity level and makes no allowance for the relative proportions of bone, muscle and fat in the body of different individuals. The BMI is entirely illogical. The formula was created to fit the data; fat people will have a high BMI but a high BMI does not mean an individual is overweight, let alone obese. In fact, a high BMI could just as easily indicate a person is fit and healthy, with very little fat.

The BMI Formula

BMI = weight in pounds/(height in inches x height in inches) x 703
The 703 is to convert the index from the original metric version of the formula.

CDC Recommendations:

Below 18.5 = Underweight
18.5 to 24.9 = Ideal
25.0 to 29.9 = Overweight
30.0 and above = Obese

As should now be obvious, the BMI is a popular but essentially useless predictor or evaluator of obesity. For instance, a large boned muscular student of average height may very well have a BMI that suggests he is obese. This is true because muscle and bone are far more dense than fat. A short, slender perfectly health child could be diagnosed as being underweight by a low BMI. There is no valid reason or excuse for this measurement. But, you may argue, the schools measures a child’s hearing and visual acuity. Is this not the same? No, it is not. Hearing and visual acuity have a direct bearing on education. I know of no relationship between weight and scholarship.

The BMI was invented some two hundred years ago by a Belgian mathematician as a way to evaluate large populations. There was never any claim by its inventor that it had diagnostic value in an individual. In fact it does not. Either the waist to hip measurement or skin fold measurements are far superior. Is there any parent reading this who cannot tell if their child is overweight? Is there any parent who needs a government agency to tell them that their child is overweight?

But this is more than just another bit of governmental stupidity. This is another of the seemingly endless intrusions into our personal lives in which government at every level loves to indulge. It goes right along with the census taker wanting to know how many toilets there are in the house or what time we go to work in the morning.

Do we have any idea how this information will be used -- or abused? BMI might not actually tell you anything useful about fitness but could still be use by an insurance company to justify increasing premiums on a family or canceling a policy. Certainly nothing good is going to come from collecting this data.

Perhaps the school could use this information to schedule three lunch lines; one for "overweight" children, one for "underweight" children and one for “normal" children. The menu items could be restricted based on BMI! Anyone want to see that happen? Now that would make for a great educational experience!

Have we not had enough of these self-important and ignorant fools intruding their personal bias into our lives? Enough and more than enough. Parents need to raise their voices and object to this unwarranted invasion of their children’s privacy. At the very least, parents should notify the school they wish to opt-out of the program.

There are 7 Comments

They should really listen to the tapes to hear some of the stuff that comes out of their mouths . Do you think they would realize how ridiculous they sound ? This is what we're paying for . By being selected does that mean we have the choice to opt out of the government , yet again , collecting useless information about us without a stated purpose . Opt out , always question , and vote them out .

How would one go about opting out? Calling the school? You'll just get someone on the other end of the phone who won't know anything about what we're talking about.

Robert Cox's picture

She can provide details on how to request your child's data not be sent to New York State. BTW, they have already been collecting this data since last year so make sure you ask that ALL data about your child be removed.

576-4264 is dr Weiss' number. One of her 3 secretaries, Ginny
usually picks up and screens her calls. Oops I forgot that she hAs a nurse assistant too!

Does Dr. Weiss really need three secretaries? I can't imagine that. That seems like too many on staff.

what else did you expect from the confederation of dunces in albany? it is bad enough that we are being socially engineered to death. Now this

heard that some moron in washington wants to, get this, mandate combat as a no smoking zone. It is dangerous to your health. Gee, what about someone trying to pin your butt to the business end of an mortar? most soldiers i knew back then actually increased their consumption; that is what stress will do to you

but i digress only to point out that there are pinheads in the federal and state governments that bring this worthless tripe to us and tell us to do it. Ms Weiss, you are not Dr Wagner. you may be equally nice, decent, maybe even smart, but come on -- dr Wagner is making an important point. there are so many other things you can do positively to encourage children to control their weight -- at least a school day's worth and then it is up to the family. work your menus, toughen up on your physical exercise, look for incentives to kids who lose weight, bring in nutritionists, etcc...... do not put one taxpayer in further finanacial jeopardy by agreeing to this bull.

use any available funds to relieve parents from some to the burdens of purchasing school supplies and --- in sum, Dcctor knows best. JUST SAY NO!

If any school board member is peeking at this --- pull the plug on this nonsense immediately.

warren gross

Since th volume of a body of given shape (human, animal, astronomic, whatever) is proportional to the cube of the height, and definitely not the square, and since the weight of that body is defined by the product of its volume and its density (or if you prefer, the volumes and densities of its constituent parts added together), the BMI has no theoretical use as an indicator of anything at all. A six foot person will weigh eight times as much as a three foot dwarf (or child) of the same proportions- but BMI indicates that the six footer should only be four times the weight- hence BMI classifies basket ball players (generally tall and skinny) as overweight, and short dumpy people as underweight. Much of the rise in BMI for the population is clearly down to better nutrition and healthcare.
allowing people in general to get taller.

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