According to the Federal government, I am fat. Specifically, I’m “overweight.” At 6’1” and a shade under 220 pounds, my body mass index is 29, which the government claims is something like “extra-poor with lettuce and cheese.” But the BMI is a terrible indicator of actual fitness. Some guys — like me — are built a little bit bigger. Hell, according to BMI measurements, Tim Tebow (BMI: 29.4) is borderline obese. Tebow doesn’t read defenses particularly well; but, according to most of the women I know, he is decidedly not obese.
And I’m a pretty fit guy. According to my doctor, my blood pressure is normal, my resting pulse is in the low 60s, my cholesterol is excellent and I generally seem pretty chipper. I work out at least five times per week, following a program designed by a friend of mine who happens to be a champion natural bodybuilder (BMI: 27.5 – “overweight”). I play in a weekend flag football league against kids half my age. My knees would probably prefer I didn’t, but I play competitively. Like President Barack Obama (BMI: “pencil neck”), I smoke. But unlike Obama, I don’t hypocritically hide the habit. Like the first lady (BMI: A gentleman never asks; a lady never tells), I eat pretty much whatever the hell I want. But unlike the first lady, I don’t bark at my fellow citizens to shape up in between 5-star, multi-course gourmet meals with Oprah Winfrey (BMI: Deep Dish Pizza).
I’m no Tebow, but I’m no Michael Moore (BMI: The Planet Uranus) either. Actually, that’s a ridiculous simile. Moore is one Ho Ho from needing the Army Corps of Engineers to knock out a wall and drag him onto a C-130. I certainly don’t require the government’s assistance in trying to be more Tebow than Moore (a good idea no matter what the circumstances).
That’s why I abhor government interventions like those being proposed of late. At the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Weight of the Nation” confab this week, the discussion centered on the supposed obesity epidemic raging unchecked across the Nation. According to the rhetoric, 42 percent of Americans will be more like Moore than me by 2030. The enormously influential Institute of Medicine and the enormously annoying Center for Science in the Public Interest have joined other nabobs of nannyism in calling for government requirements that:
- Fast food restaurants offer “healthier choices.”
- “Employers … provide access to healthy foods at work and offer opportunities for physical activity.”
- And, of course, taxes be levied on the stuff at the root of our supposed national obesity “epidemic.”
Since Fatty McBlubberston can’t resist filling his gullet with double-baco-greaseburgers, I have to cough up more for mine. Moreover, Greaseburgerville has to offer more stuff in which both Fatty and and I are disinterested. They’ll have to spend more time and money offering “healthy foods” instead of, say, making more double-baco-greaseburgers (hence: Greaseburgerville as opposed to Tofuville or something equally unappetizing).
We are heavier than previous Americans. We’re also taller, faster and stronger and we live longer — by a wide margin. We certainly aren’t smarter, but that’s another column entirely. The government is basing a potential intervention into our lives, our refrigerators and even our wallets on a supremely flawed device — the BMI — and the subsequent presumption that Americans are a bunch of fat, lazy couch potatoes who require the government to watch their waistlines.
Some people will suggest that those on welfare need the government to make dietary choices, lest they become a burden on the system. I would respond: They’re on welfare. They’re already a burden on the system. Indeed, as the American population and our average lifespan continue to grow at a nearly exponential rate, we are all a burden on the system.
Even if Americans are a bunch of fat and lazy couch potatoes, it still isn’t the government’s job to take away our double-baco-greaseburgers. Of course there are people who look like Moore. But the people who look like Tebow and me (all right, more Tebow than me) shouldn’t have to suffer for it. My own decision-making process might include the occasional double-baco-greaseburger (last time, I promise); but I eat vegetables, drink plenty of water (in addition to the ice cubes in my scotch) and — most importantly — require neither assistance nor threats from the government to do so.