Even as his doctors announced that he had “superior” fitness, President George W. Bush said yesterday that he’s now “a little overweight” after putting on about five pounds during the last 17 months of campaigning. Actually, the president’s own government has considered him officially overweight for quite some time — probably as early as 1998, when a grand redefinition cast more than 30 million Americans from the “normal” into the “overweight” category without gaining an ounce. With a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 27, the supposedly bloated six-foot, two-hundred pound Bush would have to lose 20 pounds to be considered a “normal” weight under the government’s absurd standard.
At the beginning of his portly presidency, Bush’s workout routine included more than 20 miles of jogging per week. He told Runner’s World magazine that exercise is a central part of his daily routine:
These days the president bikes instead of jogging. According to the Associated Press, “his doctors reported that he exercises six times a week by biking 15-20 miles at 15 miles per hour.” And Bush bench presses a very respectable 200 pounds.
Last month the CDC recanted its bogus statistic that dramatically overstated the number of people whose death was supposedly related to obesity. Now it’s time for health officials to change the standard for measuring “normal,” “overweight,” and “obese,” which is responsible for Bush’s long-term misclassification, as well as the myth that 65 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. The president should demand a recount.
Based on weak evidence, a National Institutes of Health (NIH) panel in 1998, chaired by pharmaceutically-funded obesity researcher Xavier Pi-Sunyer, shifted the definition of “overweight” from a BMI of 27.8 for men and 27.3 for women all the way down to 25 for both genders. You’d think that a monumental change that made millions of Americans “overweight” would be based on a fat load of evidence. But you’d be wrong.
No less than Judith Stern of the American Obesity Association — the scaremongering lobbying arm of the pharmaceutical and weight-loss industry — came out against the redefinition. In 1999, American Fitness magazine reported:
Even Judith Stern, M.D., a staunch advocate for the “weight-loss-at-any-cost” point of view and a member of the NIH Task Force on the Prevention and Treatment of Obesity, publicly criticized the new guidelines. “They have misquoted the data. If they are going to do it scientifically, they should do it scientifically. There will be a big push to lower the BMI at which we treat with drugs, and that’s not justified given the current drugs.”
And Barbara Moore, CEO of former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop’s “Shape Up America!,” was another early critic of the NIH’s move that made President Bush overweight. She told PBS in 1998:
[W]e know that one out of ten 18-year-old girls is already indulging in very unhealthy practices like fasting, purging, taking laxatives, because they think that they’re too fat. Now, I think that this is a nation that’s obsessed with thinness, and to have the NIH, the prestige of the NIH added to this obsession by calling the BMI of 25 and 26 overweight is, I think, adding to that pressure and adding to that obsession.