Here Tubby-Tubby

Posted: March 4, 2012 in General
Tags: , , , , , ,

The Gallup organization, those guys that are responsible for all the polls news anchors seem to be able to quote endlessly, have released their list of the Ten Least and Most Obese States.  There were a few surprises in this little slide show for me.  I was not surprised at all by some of the least obese, I did do a double take when I saw NJ on that list, I guess I just never saw my home state as a particularly healthy state; more on that in a moment.  Looking at the most obese side, not really surprised by some on there or their rankings, however, I was surprised my current state of NC was not in the top 10 heavy hitters, but that the tiny state of Delaware was, guess the VP Joe Biden needs to turn his attention back to the state he represented for so many years and whip them (or regulate them) back into shape.

Ok, now it may seem a bit insensitive of me in this day and age to poke fun at our top heavy states.  After all, I have battled with maintaining a healthy weight according to Army standards almost my entire career.  I have never though required reinforcement of the buttons on my uniforms, and I am still wearing the same size as when I started a little over 18 years ago.  There have just been some times when it has fit a little better than it did at other times.

The reason I bring this up at all is because the Army uses an inaccurate method of determining the correct height/weight ratio and a mathematical model of determining you Body Mass Index (BMI).  They use a method that sort of represents the insurance industry developed standard from back about 40 years or so ago.  The industry standard known as the Body Mass Index or BMI was developed by actuaries to give insurance companies a scale for who was at what risk level.  Despite the fact that the measurements and data needed to complete a persons BMI are an inaccurate method of determining a persons overall health and fitness, it is still the standard.  I am not sure of the other military services methods of determining health and weight and what is good and proper.

The Army has a two stage process of figuring out your overall fitness level.  First, you take the Army Physical Fitness Test or APFT. (I will caveat this description with the fact the Army is actually going to be implementing a new test with more functional events in the near future.)  The APFT consists of three events done in this order, 2 minutes of push-ups, 2 minutes of sit-ups, and a 2 mile run.  It is designed to check you aerobic fitness and endurance.  You can score up to 100 points per event with the ability to go to an extended scale for any event, but only if you score a total of 300 points resulting from a 100 point score per event.  One of the benefits of that has come out of our 11 years of war is that the Army has determined our APFT is an inadequate measure of physical performance and over the last few years they have done several possible changes to the APFT that would make it a judge of more functional fitness.  An example, I have never scored a 300 on an APFT, I have come close to maxing my run and for years scored beyond the max for push-up and sit-ups.  I am just a slow runner.  The thing is I have never had a problem physically keeping up on patrols or fr any real-world event.  Like many in the military I do not have the type of strength or stamina that can be measured in a simplistic format.

Part two of the overall health of the force process actually begins before the APFT when you get weighed-in.  Based on a pre-determined set of table the Army in all of its infinite wisdom determines that based on a certain age, height and weight you are either getting taped for measurements or you meet the pre-defined statistics in the manual.  For instance, at Army Old age of 42, at 5’10” I am allowed to be 192 pounds.  I am seldom down that low, usually about 200, even though I can cut weight if I am aware of a scheduled APFT.  Getting “taped” is a process for men which consists of taking a measurement of the neck and abdomen three times and figuring out from a complex set of tables what you body fat percentage is.  Women get three different measurements, I forget what the third area is.  Even though the manual specifies the type of measuring tape and what it should be made of, and it is available within the supply system, you cannot find one that meets the criteria.  Chances are even if you order one from the system it will not be the right type (the whole government/lowest bidder thing).

So, why the whole change of focus from fat/thin states to my issues with the Army’s means of determining health?  The reason is, there is no standard for determining health that has come into play since the BMI was developed that takes into consideration a “Total Health” measurement.  Just like any statistics, you can take the numbers and spin them any way you like, that is the beauty of math and a creative mind.  Just spinning those numbers does nothing for solving the issues at hand.  We can go to People of Walmart and see a finely documented example of what obese or morbidly obese looks like.  In reality, when it comes to someone who is really obese or at risk for other health factors, it is not easy just by looking at them to identify them.  Skinny people develop heart disease the same as hefty ones do.  Some people are really good at dressing themselves and can hide the visual clues that they are potential strokes on feet.

Our nation as a whole is large and getting larger.  We treat our food like we do any other commercial product, we deserve it and we really do not want to work for it.  Our overall entitled mentalities transcend most boundaries.  Mrs. Obama is on the right track with looking for ways to change our school lunch menus and more and more people are looking at fresh options for food.  We need to continue looking for ways to not only make our diets more beneficial and nutritious but get back to a society in which exercise is part of everything we do.  We were a functionally fit society for a long time, we were able to do what we needed almost to the point at which we dies.  Gone are the farm societies and the manufacturing by hand.  We can now sit on our butts and make sure a computer does what we used to do by hand.  i do not think the movie Wall-E was very far off the mark.


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