Today’s Read: For the Physicians

TW: Fatphobia

I’m considering carrying copies of this article to every medical appointment I have. I never want to hear about BMI again. If you’re in the medical field, tell your coworkers about this, please. It’s not a secret. It’s not new information. I’ve read about this repeatedly.

BMI is bullshit. Weight is one’s relationship with gravity. BMI is length plus width. They’re literally just numbers. They don’t tell anyone anything about health.

To be clear, I’m not saying one’s body size has zero impact on health. On the contrary, I know how my body size impacts my health. I’m saying we cannot limit our understanding of health to BMI, weight, height, or any combination of those numbers.

For instance, my doctor’s main nurse called me to tell me I’m pre-diabetic. (My chiropractor later said, “Technically, we’re all pre-diabetic.”) Instead of asking me about my diet, she said, “Stop drinking sugary drinks entirely.” She did not ask me how many sugary drinks I have in a day, how many ounces, how often, etc. I could tell the assumption was that I drink soda often. I typically don’t. I drink yogurt, chai, sparkling water, and filtered water. That’s usually it. I might have a week where I drink a soda once a day, and then I’ll go months without drinking soda at all. I rarely exceed one chai in a day. I simply don’t drink a lot of sugar, but that was the recommended medical advice.

The relationship here is this: Obese + pre-diabetic = bad eating habits.

But consider this as well: I learned recently I have severe sleep apnea. Maybe I consume carbs a lot because my body is in need of quick energy because I sleep like shit. So, why wasn’t my medical care team asking me about my holistic health instead of giving me impersonal directives? Why weren’t the questions: What’s your sleep like? How much energy do you feel like you have in a day? Are you often tired?

The relationship is actually this: Sleep apnea –> Poor sleep –> Low energy –> heavy carb consumption –> Higher than average blood sugar

Now, I’m willing to acknowledge my body size might contribute to sleep apnea. But we don’t know. Thin people also have sleep apnea, so weight is not an obvious, universal factor. What might the underlying concerns be, and why aren’t my doctors asking those questions?

We pay far too much money in office visits, health insurance, and pharmaceuticals to be given one-dimensional answers based on two-dimensional measures for three-dimensional bodies. We cannot all agree that bodies are different, then use the same measuring stick for everyone. The medical industry makes too much bank to sit on old, flawed, useless knowledge. It’s time for them to change. Ban the BMI.

Today’s Read: “Why Do Women Hate Their Bodies?”

I appreciate the apparent intentions behind this piece; however, it’s rife with examples as to why it’s so hard to burn diet culture (re: anti-fatness and patriarchy) to the underground. CW: Obesity, eating disorders

First, it’s not that women hate their bodies, as if it’s something we opt to do. It’s that people are influenced to hate their bodies. Always remember the motivation behind unrealistic body portrayals in the media is to sell products. It’s always about capitalism, power, and control. The article acknowledges the role the media plays, but it fails to shift the language away from diet culture nonsense.

Second, it cites examples of improvement in the media away from putting emaciated bodies first, and two of those examples use the BMI as an accurate indicator of health. If you don’t remember, the body mass index is deeply flawed and entrenched in racist, sexist views. It does nothing but measure the ratio of height and weight, which is a two-dimensional equation for three-dimensional bodies with fourth-dimensional (sure, I’m going with it) social and genetic factors.

Third, it makes little effort to recognize that fat is normal.

What I appreciate is its analysis of the media’s role. However, the company behind this website describes itself as “the largest health information property in the U.S.” a.k.a. the media. Y’all. I’M the media too. Websites, blogs, books, magazines, television, radio, music . . . it’s all media. We’re all trying to influence your knowledge. We should be asking what role they play as well. You should be questioning what I’m trying to do! You don’t think I hope to make a buck? (And yes, I have a ton of capitalist guilt, but that’s a post for another day.)

Yet again, we live in a society that puts continued attention on symptoms and never enough on the causes. This article would do a helluva lot more if it asked, “Who made women hate their bodies?”

Today’s Read: Uh, A Few . . .

I wandered off for the holiday weekend, so I’m behind on my daily reading. Here’s what I’ll be reading today!

Healthy Eating Habits for Impulsive, Dopamine-Starved ADHD Brains

Women’s Personal Finance (This is more of a getting-to-know-this-community read)

Obesity as a Disease: A White Paper on Evidence and Arguments Commissioned by the Council of The Obesity Society (You can take the woman out of academia, but . . . )

Which one grabs your interest? Personally, I read about these topics to understand my own brain, my money, and my body because a lot of people have a lot to say about each one, but I need to understand what I think first!