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January 17 2018

Obesity Alarmists Get To Work Fat Shaming the President

by Julie Gunlock

It appears President Trump is a pretty healthy guy. Earlier this week, the White House physician Ronny L. Jackson (who was appointed by Obama) announced “all clinical data indicates that the president is currently very healthy and that he will remain so for the duration of his presidency.” Jackson did suggest that the president could benefit from eating a low fat and low carb diet and that he could use some regular exercise.

Who wouldn’t want a report like that?

Yet, despite this good news, the fat shamers on network news shows and online publications went to work nitpicking the report to find the tiniest of detail to criticize. And they found one thing on which to focus: the president’s slightly elevated BMI.

In an overwrought piece in Slate, writer Jeremy Samuel Faust suggested the president was on the cusp (the CUSP!) of obesity, based on his BMI.

But one result was conspicuously abnormal: the president’s body mass index. At 6’3” and 239 pounds, Trump’s BMI is 29.9, exactly 0.1 units shy of one big league distinction: obesity. Remdarkably [sic}, the president was found to be exactly 1 pound lighter than a weight that would have pushed him over the edge to receive the diagnosis of obesity. Similarly, if he were merely 1/10 of an inch shorter, he would also be considered obese.

Of course, Faust managed to miss the widespread dismissal of BMI as a measure of human health from places like Harvard Medical School:

It’s important to recognize that BMI itself is not measuring “health” or a physiological state (such as resting blood pressure) that indicates the presence (or absence) of disease. It is simply a measure of your size. Plenty of people have a high or low BMI and are healthy and, conversely, plenty of folks with a normal BMI are unhealthy.

Or, perhaps Faust missed what respected doctor and CNN medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta wrote about BMI in his 2013 column for Everyday Health:  

…Because BMI is based on body weight rather than body composition, it doesn’t take into account how much of that weight is from muscle, bone or water as opposed to fat.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers BMI “a reasonable indicator of body fat,” it doesn’t recommend it as a diagnostic tool.

[BMI is] just one piece of the puzzle. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends that any weight-related health assessments should be based on a combination of BMI, waist circumference and other individual risk factors such as high blood pressure, cholesterol or physical inactivity.

Of course, Gupta forgot all about his dismissal of BMI when he appeared just this morning on CNN to criticize the president for being “almost obese.” What did Gupta base this opinion on? The president’s BMI—the very measurement Gupta dismissed only a few years ago.

Instead of fat shaming, perhaps it’s time Dr. Gupta got himself to a doctor to be tested for Trump Derangement Syndrome, or at the very least tested for his obvious and embarassing memory loss about his own medical opinions. 

Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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