Below is an essay I wrote for my Nutrition class in 2010.
Unhealthy Body Weight
Unhealthy Body Weights are determined typically on Body Mass Index (BMI), genetics, and Waist to Hip Ratio (WHR).
Body Mass Index:- An index for estimating obesity, obtained by dividing weight in kilograms by height in meters squared. Age is an important factor in interpreting these values because a high level in a young person is more likely to indicate obesity than in an old one. [i]
Genetics:- Precise information should be obtained from the proposer as to the causes of death of any members of his family, and as to the duration of their last illnesses. In attempts to discover tendencies to disease, a study of the family history is most important.[ii]
Waist to Hip Ratio:- Waist-to-hip ratio is a measurement that compares the size of your waist in inches to that of your hips. Risk for developing heart disease is typically measured by waist-to-hip ratio.
These numbers are then plugged into a predetermined “chart” set by miles and miles of historical statistical data that is typically the “average” throughout the ages and not so much on the person’s “health”. You may find someone of a “larger” stature, whose BMI is “obese” or larger, WHR greater than it should be, thus giving a false reading of ones health. There are many scenarios where these statistical data’s will prove to be false. For example, there is “Joe” who lives in Northern Ontario and he is a farmer. He is married with 3 teenage children; he is roughly 6 feet tall, about 240lbs; he has a BMI of 32 which according to charting methods would “indicate obesity if the BMI was greater than 27.8 kg/m2.”[iii] This however is not the case; since he eats the freshest of food right there in his own back yard, he is tending to the farm animals, and constantly looking after his crops. This man is healthy as a horse, hardly ever catches a cold, and is diligent in keeping his physical with his physician once a year. He will most likely outlive all of us, and have absolutely no vitamin deficiencies. There are on the other hand those of us who fit into the “norm” but are constantly battling with colds, and flu and vitamin deficiencies. Why?
What are contributing factors for different body compositions?
As we spoke about earlier genetics will play a role in determining healthy, or unhealthy body weights, they can also be used in determining body composition, though is not always the case. Diet also plays a huge role in body composition and as you will learn about a little later, it is not how much you eat, nor what you think you are eating, but what it is you really are ingesting. Most of what we see when we see obesity is not really obesity but malnutrition, same is true with underweight people, for it is not that they are ingesting less than the “obese” person but ingesting foods with little or no nutritional value. It is startling the amount of food that is not really food at all. For instance if you read a label on “pop” there is NO “food” to be found, yet it is readily available and ingested my millions of people everyday; candy, made of sugar, sugar is not food, it is laboratory refined to what we see as sugar today. Sugar is one of many thousands of products that are in “beautifully decorated packages”[iv] which is their selling feature, not what is inside. Most of what is inside those packages has less nutritional value than the package itself.
Back in the early 1900’s Medical Doctors were seeing an influx of child death before the age of ten with no conclusive cause of death with about 3 million children in a 4 year span dying in the USA.[v]
A few years and a few hundred thousand autopsies later, laboratory testing, and food testing Medical Doctors came to the conclusion that deaths were being caused by malnutrition. Many were sceptical, since there were a lot of “plump” children who passed away. How could someone “plump” die of malnutrition? Well, malnutrition does not have to come in the form of thinness as we all picture.
Malnutrition:- Any disorder of nutrition causing a lack of necessary or proper food substances in the body.[vi]
Let’s paint a picture…Back in the early 1900’s the radio was starting to become a little more common place, cars too were making popular on roads, places to “shop” were becoming more common place. For the most part milk and eggs were still delivered daily, at least to the middle class and wealthy, but now women could go “shopping” for food without having to wait for their husbands on a weekend at the market. Women were able to listen to the radio as they cooked meals listening to these advertisements of “refined” cereals, “blanched” flour, “easy to prepare” such and such. Those advertisements are not here to “state the whole truth in a food advertising campaign for the reason the manufactures insist that their advertisements shall centre about the talking points that will sell their product, always keeping clear of the controversy. The chief function of the advertising manager is not to educate the masses but to popularize the product he is paid to exploit.”[vii]
These so called exploitations found formaldehyde in milk, they have found poisons in our foods traveling a far distance, more recently have found Aspartame in too many products, and they have put deadly and addictive cigarettes on the market with a “thumbs up” from Surgeon Generals.
The world was changing and who knew a hundred years later we are further behind than when we started. We are now facing a pandemic here at home in the form of obesity, though it is really malnutrition.
Let’s take a minute to think about this, malnutrition is an inadequacy of proper nutrients to the body, when we are malnourished, we become tired, when we are tired we tend not to be productive, thus keeping in reserve what we have just digested. We also tend to feel sick, catch colds much easier and those colds seem to last longer and longer the more we insist on eating from those “beautifully decorated packages”[viii]. If however, one insists on keeping busy with a malnourished diet, that is when we will see thinness.
These extremes in Body weight are not only from an inadequate diet, and misinformation about foods that we ingest, they can also stem from media influences. Everywhere you turn there is an advertisement shown where thin is beautiful, tanned is healthy and fake is what makes it.
It is an injustice to see such misinformation and such a predominance of importance of looks. There is an advertisement enclosed that gives statistical information about looks in the workplace. They state that looks really do matter if you are going to move “up” in a company. If you are a size 12, completely qualified, personable, hard-working you are less likely to be promoted than your not-so-friendly, slacker co-worker that sports a size 4. Can this really be true? Well this advertisement says it is…“ we are not here to state the whole truth in an advertising campaign for the reason the manufactures insist that their advertisements shall centre about the talking points that will sell their product, always keeping clear of the controversy. The chief function of the advertising manager is not to educate the masses but to popularize the product he is paid to exploit.”[ix]
We, here today, are all ahead of the masses; we are educated on what the body needs to survive. We know the body requires Sodium for nerve impulses to occur, we know that glucose is a necessity for virtually all functions of the body to occur, we know that balance, homeostasis is what the body is built to do. It is within our knowledge and within our education that we can help the body achieve that, we can eat what was given to us by the engineer of our bodies, for the needs of our body, not for the “time constraints” of our lives or the pretty packages, or the easy way out. We should all know that the “easy way out” is really not the easy way out at all.
Think twice when you go into the supermarket, think twice when you are tired, think twice when you have had a cold twice in one month. There is so much power in knowledge and there is so much we can do to overcome media ideals, pandemics, and “beautifully decorated packages”. It is in your hands.
[i] Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary-18th Edition -1997
[ii] Textbook of Medicine 2nd Edition Edinburgh-E&S Livingstone-1932
[iii] Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary 18th Edition -1997
[iv] The Science of Eating –McCann 1919
[v] The Science of Eating-McCann 1919
[vi] Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary 18th Edition
[vii] The Science of Eating-McCann 1919
[viii] The Science of Eating –McCann 1919
[ix] The Science of Eating-McCann 1919