Washington, DC – A report by Trust for America’s Health entitled “F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies Are Failing in America” should receive a failing grade for relying on a flawed standard for measuring obesity—as well as numerous errors and exaggerations, said the Center for Consumer Freedom today.
This standard, called the Body Mass Index (BMI), is decidedly faulty since it only takes height and weight, and not muscle mass, into consideration. A BMI over 25 means you’re “overweight” and a BMI over 30 means you’re “obese.” President Bush, with a BMI of nearly 27, is officially overweight, but in good company; Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, with a BMI of 33, is considered “obese” and celebrities like Matt Damon, Will Smith, and Bruce Willis are in the “overweight” category. Is this the face of the “obesity epidemic”?
Even more ridiculous, in 1998 the U.S. government changed the standard by which overweight is measured. As a result, over 35 million Americans were shifted from a government-approved weight to the overweight category — without gaining an ounce! President Bush, famous celebrities and athletes, and millions of ordinary Americans have all fallen victim to this flawed standard which is also the basis for the faulty claim that 65% of Americans today are overweight or obese.
In addition to the use of the faulty BMI standard, Trust for America’s Health also uses creative averaging to paint the worst case scenario and conclude that obesity rates in 49 states went up from 2003 to 2004. But a straight look at the same data shows that 14 states actually saw a decline in obesity rates between 2003 and 2004.
Additionally, in what experts might also deem statistical malpractice, the group conveniently selects the higher end of the CDC’s estimated range of deaths from obesity. This suggests that there are close to 60,000 more deaths a year from obesity than the CDC’s reported estimate.
“This state report card deserves an F for flawed science,” said Center for Consumer Freedom senior analyst Dan Mindus. “Any expert would agree that the findings in this study are exaggerated and any person on the street would agree that President Bush is not overweight.”