Feature

Toward a new definition of 'overweight'

For years, the medical establishment has been telling millions of perfectly healthy Americans they are fat, said law professor Paul Campos. You

Paul CamposNew Republic Online

For years, the medical establishment has been telling millions of perfectly healthy Americans they are fat, said law professor Paul Campos. You’re officially “overweight” if you have a body-mass index over 24, which includes a 5-foot-4 woman who weighs 145 pounds and a 5-foot-10 man who weighs 174. The absurdity of this definition was exposed by a recent study in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association that found that “overweight” people lived longer, on average, than either “healthy weight” or very skinny people. Doctors in the “anti-fat” lobby were outraged, calling the results of the study “ludicrous,” “rubbish,” or, more honestly, “puzzling.” How could “fat” people possibly be healthier? The answer lies in the medical establishment’s “scientifically bogus definition of what constitutes a healthy weight,” which has been heavily influenced by a fanatical—indeed, almost religious—belief that fat is evil, while unnatural thinness is good. Science, though, has now proved that many “overweight” people are not fat but, in fact, of healthy weight. “Puzzling results cease to puzzle when one stops abusing the English language.”

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