– Five-year-old Max Hurry from Cheshunt is 3ft 6in tall and weighs 3st 3lb
– But when sporty Max was weighed by nurse she told his parents he was fat
– Received letter saying they need to be taught how to feed their six children
The parents of a five-year-old were outraged after being told by the NHS their three stone son was overweight and needed to go to ‘fat club.’ Paul and Sarah Hurry had always prided themselves on providing healthy food for their six children. So the couple were shocked to be told by a nurse that their sporty and active son Max, who at 3ft 6in tall weighs 3st 3lb, was ‘fat’ as part of the NHS’ Child Measurement Programme. The family were even invited to a healthy lifestyle review to teach them how to feed their children. Mr Hurry, 47, from Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, said he didn’t know whether laugh or feel furious after receiving the letter which he described as ‘political correctness gone mad.’ The note from Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust, which was based on the youngster’s BMI reading, went onto say that Max’s weight could lead to serious health problems such as asthma diabetes. It even warned it might make him more prone to bullying and having low self-esteem. But Mr Hurry and wife Sarah disputed any claims their active young boy was anything but healthy.
Firstly the text above is a straight forward “cut and paste” from the Daily Mail, which thanks to its inability to proofread articles has come up with a new disease called “asthma diabetes”. Myself I am both asthmatic and diabetic but thank God I don’t have “asthma diabetes” ….
Isn’t it about time we scrapped the current method of assessing people’s via the Body Mass Index (hereafter BMI)? Basically BMI is an “indicator” of whether a person is underweight, overweight, obese or “total lardarse”. Basically your weight in kilogrammes is divided by your height in metres squared and you get a “number” which “ideally” should be as close to 25 as possible. Hmmm ….
Most of my life my BMI has been all over the place, at one time as low as 16, another time as high as 34. Until recently I was around 21/22 but have put on weight on slowly since April 2014, mainly due to coming off a diabetes drug called Exenatide (which “encourages” weight loss, albeit not in an entirely pleasant way) and going onto insulin (which makes losing weight harder). I don’t know my current BMI but I suspect probably about 27-29. Did I mention that 27 used to be “normal”? Oh yes, somebody somewhere decided to make 25 “normal” 25 overnight many people suddenly became “obese”.
The problem with all of this is the whole thing is far too simplistic and the “medical professional” (I am going to use the term loosely here) who assessed Max (yes we’re back to Max, the young lad above) is clearly in the “computer says no” school of thought. Max is clearly, to anyone with any real sense not overweight. In fact he looks like a perfectly normal healthy young lad.
So where does all this discrepancy come from? Have you heard of body types? My academic background is in psychology with particular interest in mental health and eating disorders. One thing I learnt about in university was somatotype constitutional psychology. This psychological area of study was “pioneered” by William Sheldon and Earnest Hooton in the 1940s and they defined body type as being 1 of 3 differing somatotypes: ectomorphic, mesomorphic and endomorphic. Now Sheldon and Hooton’s motives were somehwat different to what this blog post is about as they were connected with racist, xenophobic, sexist, anti semitic and generally “obnoxious” views based on the idea that body shape would determine personal characteristics such as intelligence, anxiety, courage etc etc. Given that their research was inspired by the work of Francis Galton, who was responsible for much of 20th century eugenics didn’t help their cause much either (as it happens I think eugenics is due to rear its ugly head again in Europe in the next 20-30 years but we’ll save that for another discussion).
So what if we look at these body types from a physiological perspective instead of psychological? The premise behind body types having an effect on weight and other physiological discrepancies seems plausible. So let’s take a look at this picture below:
These are the three body types. Can you see yourself? When I was a teenager I had a friend called John, the typical “beanpole” ectomorph. He ate like a pig then and still does, his weight moves up and down a fair bit but essentially he’s still a “beanpole”. Another friend Peter (who we all called “Bricky”, mainly because he had that sort of “rectangular” look about him and sometimes walked like he had a brick shoved up his a**e), yeah he was the endomorph, he’s spent most of his life fighting his weight, and nice chap though he is I bet his BMI has never been below about 29/30 since the day he was born. Then there’s those irritating mesomorphs; those are the ones in the “easy to lose weight and/or gain muscle” category. Mesomorphs are those people who can go to the gym and lose 3kgs of fat a week and gain 1kg of muscle and still eat like a pig. Come on we all know people of this type, you ever seen Jack LaLanne? He’s that old bloke on QVC (other cable shopping channels are available) selling damn juicing machines, he’s a classic mesomorph. Now I know Penn and Teller annoy the bejeesus out of some people but seriously watch this video, it is worth it and seriously it covers all this so well:
Isn’t it about time there was another “dimension” to BMI? Maybe body type should be one of the factors included in the equation? Surely you’ve heard that Brad Pitt was, by his BMI, at the time of Fight Club “overweight”? The whole BMI thing is just far too simplistic in my opinion and to call Max “fat” is, in my opinion, a plain insult to Max and to his parents.
PS a good documentary to watch on Youtube is called “Fathead“, it’s very good and well worth watching.