Shortly after I woke up this morning, I started thinking that the last year was a major win for me. Over the past year, scientific evidence revealed that two major habits of mine, coffee and dark chocolate, were no longer vices to be avoided but are, in fact, healthy; a win-win situation if there ever was one. But this morning, I hit the trifecta. As reported in the New York Times, a “study by Katherine M. Flegal and her associates at the C.D.C. and the National Institutes of Health, found that all adults categorized as overweight and most of those categorized as obese have a lower mortality risk than so-called normal-weight individuals. If the government were to redefine normal weight as one that doesn’t increase the risk of death, then about 130 million of the 165 million American adults currently categorized as overweight and obese would be re-categorized as normal weight instead. To put some flesh on these statistical bones, the study found a 6 percent decrease in mortality risk among people classified as overweight and a 5 percent decrease in people classified as Grade 1 obese, the lowest level (most of the obese fall in this category). This means that average-height women — 5 feet 4 inches — who weigh between 108 and 145 pounds have a higher mortality risk than average-height women who weigh between 146 and 203 pounds. For average-height men — 5 feet 10 inches — those who weigh between 129 and 174 pounds have a higher mortality risk than those who weigh between 175 and 243 pounds.”
Wow. As I read these words, I stand up from my computer and strut to the closest mirror where I proudly examine the girth of my abdomen while I take my first complete breath in years without a conscious attempt to hold my stomach in. My substance, my soul, my essence is changed overnight from a sniveling, struggling, overweight, old (putting aside the baldness for a moment) guy to a higher level. Will my body shape now become the new standard for all those skinny types around me to worship? Am I destined for Hollywood where millions of theater-goers will flock to the silver screen to admire and scream as my portliness (forgetting still the baldness) as I create a new standard for action figures, i.e. walking rather than running?
Such good news, this trifecta. I pause in my reverie of the moment to briefly reflect what caused our society to make such a big deal about weight in the first place. Paul Campos, a professor of law at the University of Colorado, Boulder, in an editorial in this mornings NYTimes writes “categorizing at least 130 million Americans — and hundreds of millions in the rest of the world — as people in need of “treatment” for their [overweight] “condition” serves the economic interests of, among others, the multibillion-dollar weight-loss industry and large pharmaceutical companies, which have invested a great deal of money in winning the good will of those who will determine the regulatory fate of the next generation of diet drugs.”
Gee, there others who also realize that big Pharma, in feeding the beast of corporate profits, will say and do just about anything to sell stuff to “treat” conditions that we didn’t even know need treating; e.g., Viagra and Cialis (ED) and Rogaine and Propecia (baldness).