Hello, I’m from the ministry

! This post hasn't been updated in over a year. A lot can change in a year including my opinion and the amount of naughty words I use. There's a good chance that there's something in what's written below that someone will find objectionable. That's fine, if I tried to please everybody all of the time then I'd be a Lib Dem (remember them?) and I'm certainly not one of those. The point is, I'm not the kind of person to try and alter history in case I said something in the past that someone can use against me in the future but just remember that the person I was then isn't the person I am now nor the person I'll be in a year's time.

English PCTs are to send parents letters telling them if their children are overweight.

According to the British government, most parents of fat children don’t think their children are overweight and sending a letter from the local NHS trust using data collected by schools will prompt them to take action.

However, the NHS have told PCTs not to use the word obese or tell parents the BMI of their children because it will confuse them.  Condascending arseholes.

The problem with the BMI measurement is that it’s just another arbitrary one-size-fits-all measurement and as such, is fairly meaningless unless you are at the extremes.  According to the BMI guidance I am somewhere between class 1 and 2 obese and am at risk of heart disease, infertility, arthritis, stroke and cancer.

My heart is fine, I certainly don’t suffer from fertility problems, I have had chronic juevenile osteoarthritis since I was a (thin) child, I can’t comment on strokes but I’m more worried about the number of people in my family who’ve had cancer upping my risk than I am over being fat.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that being fat is unhealthy and it certainly doesn’t do my dodgy knees any good and I’m losing weight slowly.  But the BMI isn’t an accurate measure because it doesn’t take into account your natural build.  Thanks to my paternal gene pool, I’m 6’1″ tall and if I wasn’t fat I’d be “stocky”.  My old man has got barely an ounce of fat on him yet he’s as wide as me.  He’s 6’4″ tall and falls into the overweight category on the BMI.  If he got to a weight that fits the “normal” range on the BMI you’d see his ribs.

By contrast, my youngest son is horribly thin but he’s tall for his age.  His BMI probably puts him in the underweight bracket but he’s perfectly healthy – he’s just tall and thin.

I remember visiting the doctor a year or two ago who decided to do a spontaneous asthma check up.  My peak flow was above average for someone without asthma yet when she used a different method of calculating my body mass she told me I was border-line morbidly obese.

Anyway, this isn’t about my medical history, it’s about these letters to parents telling them that their kids are fat.  As I’ve hopefully demonstrated above the BMI is flawed and it’s quite possible to get it wrong.  A lot of parents are going to be getting letters from their local NHS trust telling them that their child is “very overweight” or underweight and this letter will be sent by a computer somewhere analysing a set of data that actually needs to be interpreted by a human being or at least be complimented by additional information about the child.

The parents getting the “very overweight” letter will presumably put their child on a diet and the parents getting the “underweight” letter will presumably start trying to fatten their kids up.  Both sets of parents, you would hope, will be fretting over the health of their child.

But what if the BMI is wrong and the child isn’t obese or underweight but is a perfectly healthy child that simply has a large or small frame?

Too much faith is put in statistics and arbitrary scales and targets and not enough in common sense.

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  1. axel (1214 comments) says:

    Everybody likes to pick on the fat kids, maybe the PCTs want to join in and piss on someone who is too fat and/or stupid to chase them?

  2. wonkotsane (1133 comments) says:

    Na, they’re too busy picking on gay kids. 😉

  3. jerry (78 comments) says:

    What the hell is wrong with these people can’t you lead your life like you want to anymore?All these healthfreaks running around telling you thats bad for you and so on and so on.How about they stop telling people what to do and what not.If it was up to them we wouldn’t even be born so we wouldn’t be to fat to their standards.

  4. axel (1214 comments) says:

    No, wonko, gayness is not currently regarded as a medical problem and i reckon the PCTs dont want to step away from their area of expertise.

  5. axel (1214 comments) says:

    Jerry, when your stupidity and fatness starts wasting my tax money, you are damn right i want the authorities poking you with a stick saying, ‘Hey tubbs, diet time!’

  6. jerry (78 comments) says:

    I myself weigh about 11.5 stone and am 6 feet.Would you call that fat?And I dont mean the goverment especially but the whole society at the moment.Dont you see it in the ads?Buy this and you wont become fat and tv programms telling you that you should not have any self respect if you are overweight.Anorexic models are cool and people that are a bit over weight dont respect their body.Why dont you just let them lead their life without telling them what to do?

  7. wonkotsane (1133 comments) says:

    You’re bang on “normal” Jerry.

  8. axel (1214 comments) says:

    yes, most of us are bang on normal but for those of us who are drains on our hard pressed health service due to self indulgence, stupidity or laziness, they get the ire of my wrath.

    In Edinburgh all the buses have areas for prams/wheel chairs and ignoring the weird politics of that, these pram areas are now being fought over by fat people, who cannot get into normal seats or stand for the length of their short journeys or who do not like being poked with sharp sticks when they block the aisles.

    The people who have eaten themselves into such a state that they can only go to the hospital with the aid of the fire service and the special big ambulances.

    The people who have to go to special crematoria because they are too big to fit into normal crematoria, it is surely a sign that some people are needing something done when there is a commercial oppurtunity for obesity to make a profit!

    rant over, i will go and lie down in a darkened room :p

  9. axel (1214 comments) says:

    In fact no, if your kids are obese, it shows you are an incompotent parent, who needs educated about things like nutrition and excercise

  10. wonkotsane (1133 comments) says:

    Agree with you almost entirely axel but you have to bear in mind that there are sometimes medical reasons why someone is overweight. I probably wouldn’t be a porker if I was able to exercise properly but as it is, at the age of 30 I’ve had 13 arthroscopies and 3 lots of open surgery on my knees. My nan had something wrong with her that caused her to put loads of weight on, something hormonal I think. Even something as simple as a slow metabolism can cause someone to put weight on because not only do their bodies metabolise their food more slowly but they also have less energy as a result.

    Certainly not making excuses for fatness and I accept that most fat people are fat because they ear roo much and are terminally lazy but there can be genuine reasons or contributing factors to being fat.

  11. axel (1214 comments) says:

    Yes, there will be ‘some’ with valid reasons, glandular reasons and knackered kneecaps seem lile valid ones to me, as do drug induced weight gain and condition that limit your excercise and or metabolism.

    but being a fat kid because all you do is eat chips and watch TV is not a medical reason.

    There have always been fat people,but never in the field of human gastronomy has so much been eaten by so few, in such a short time as to render them incapable of getting to their local Greggs without electric wheeled chairs, ‘Wide Load’ emblazoned underpants and trained monkeys that screech warning calls when their gravitationally crippled masters reverse their transport.

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