26 February 2008

How do you define fat?

There seems to be so many ways now, of people telling us that we're fat, obese, whatever, but which way is the best?

According to Diabetes UK, if you are a woman and your waist is larger than 31.5", or a man with a waist of over 37" then you are at risk of diabetes. That's me fucked then - my waist is 38", or 36" when I lay off eating bread (and no, I'm not gluten intolerant).

When I was about 20 years old, my waist was 34" and people used to say to me "Oh my God! You're too skinny, are you anorexic?" How come? Well, I'm 5'11" tall for a start. 34" was actually about right for me. If my waist was as low as 31.5", given my build, I think my dad would start to panic that I was seriously ill, just like he did when I was in my mid to late teens.

How can an organisation make a sweeping generalisation such as waist size to determine someone's health? If I were 4'11" then yes, I might be worried if my waist was over 31.5", but at 5'11", then it's a different matter.

OK, so I am ignoring the waist size thing. How about BMI? Well, yes, I'm in the overweight category at 28.7, but how much of my weight is owing to muscle and how much is owing to fat? According to my body fat report, I score 29% - the 'healthy range' is from 21 to 33. So, one report says I'm obese, one says I'm borderline overweight and another says I'm healthy.

Great, so who is right? Should I be paranoid, or satisfied? Actually, I'm neither. I'm not happy. I've tried to lose weight for the past 5 years or so, with no success. I don't eat much junk food, although I admit to scoffing a bag of pork scratchings, a bag of crisps and half a box of After Eight mints at the weekend, but hell, once in a while you've got to let go, haven't you? According to my food diary, I have been eating fewer than 1400 calories per day for the past 8 months (the recommended guideline is 2,000 for women and 2,500 for men) , and I have lost a whole 2lbs. I exercise more, eat less and my weight doesn't change.

I give up.


Oz said...

You've made a valid comment about the fact that some figures quoted are averages, but not then applied that to the calorie intake. What if you need less? What proportion is fat rather than carbs?

I get annoyed that I feel paranoid about my weight because of what I see and read. I'm 6'2" with a 34" waist and I weight 14.5 of your English stones. But, because I've lost some of the definition that I had as a 21 year old, I now feel inadequate.

Anonymous said...

Sod the body fascists.

I have always been regarded as overweight according to all the measures
the killjoys like to bandy about as being within acceptable limits.

I'm 5'7" on a good day and weigh in at 12stone 10lbs at the mo (178lbs).

But ask anyone who knows me if they think I'm fat and the answer would
be no.

With the six nations rugby comp currently being played it is worth
bearing in mind that pretty much the entire England Rugby team would be
classed as grossly overweight or clinically obese if you believe those
dietary fools rules.

Eat, drink and be merry and tomorrow we shall fry-up.


V said...

The only measure that seems to be of any use is the 95% hip to waist ratio - and a that tells you is that you may be fat!

The good news seems to be that its is the cuddly people who live longest - they just don't tell you that because it may see them out of a job!

good blog by the way!