Spark friend 4A-Healthy-BMI posted this link over the weekend comparing BMIs with people across the globe.
25BMI - Normal (upper range)
National Average - Below Average (lower than 76% of females age 30-44)
Global Average - Above Average (higher than 58% of females age 30-44)
I'm most like someone from Hungary.
Playing with the sliders, I'm just above the threshold of the 24BMI global average for my age group.
More women in my age group are overweight or obese than I am. I am on the high side of 'normal'. That means the 'average' is overweight or obese. 'Normal' weight is below average.
Playing with the tool some more, I put in my starting weight of 160lbs.
31BMI - Obese
National Average - Above Average (lower than 62% of females age 30-44)
Global Average - Above Average (higher than 91% of females age 30-44)
I knew the global average was going to be bad. The national average, though, is still startling. Even obese, there are a staggering number of US women who are morbidly obese. I had 44% bodyfat at 160lbs, and that is just in the 60th percentile. I had to push the weight in the calculator to 200lbs in order to reach the 90th percentile with 39BMI.
I put in my husband's info, and he was mortified. I'm not going to share the specifics because it's his personal info. But needless to say, it was a wakeup call.
If we're going to turn this around, we're going to have to admit there is something flawed about the advice we've been given in the past 30 years.
I looked up statistics from the CDC to see if Americans were following the advice of "exercise more, eat less".
Since 1974, Americans have increased their net average calories.
1971-1974 Average calories (age adjusted):
2005-2008 Average calories (age adjusted):
How about composition?
Men: 42.4 | 16.5 | 36.9
Women: 45.4 | 16.9 | 36.1
Men: 47.4 | 15.6 | 33.6
Women: 49.5 | 15.8 | 33.8
The general dietary advice starting back in the 80s was eat less fat and more grains. While the numbers may not seem huge, the general trend is that Americans tried to follow this advice. Carbs went up, fat and protein went down. Thus the general increase in calories is primarily coming from carbohydrates.
The next piece is whether Americans followed the advice to exercise more.
1998 Met aerobic guidelines:
2010 Met aerobic guidelines:
Again, general trend is Americans are attempting to exercise more. At least half the population meets the minimum guidelines for regular exercise. This exercise should be compensating for the general calorie increase, and thus slowing the trend. But this isn't happening.
Healthy weight Americans (18.5-24.9BMI) 1960-1962
Healthy weight Americans (18.5-24.9BMI) 2007-2010
Wow. The number of healthy weight Americans has dropped at a staggering pace. Let's look at this again. If at least 50% of Americans in 2008 are meeting regular exercise, then why isn't at least 50% of the overweight/obesity rate dropping? Obesity and morbid obesity are still climbing. There is no sign of it leveling out or dropping, despite aggressive campaigning.
Let's stop blaming compliance. Americans have shifted their macronutrients, and are exercising more. There are enough people complying that it should have shifted the national statistics. If it were working, the trend for obesity should slow or trend down. If this was all to the story, then this should have resulted in a slight general decrease in overall body weight, or at least a halt.
I see people working their butts off at the gym week after week who seem to never lose weight. I used to be one of those people, so I understand the story all too well. Do everything right, and there's no reward.
At what point do we admit the strategy for the past 30 years isn't working as a cover-all blanket, and we need a new solution? Or multiple solutions? One diet does not rule them all? While most of human history has been about surviving starvation, Americans are now tasked with surviving being crushed under our own body weight.
I was only able to break out of being a statistic when I looked at my own results and said, you know what? My real world result said this wasn't working.