Eureka! High school scoops scientists on weight

Notify the Nobel committee! This is the biggest medical breakthrough in modern history: a school in Utah has not only discovered how to measure "healthy weight" but also how to achieve it!

Or... not.

If the best scientists and clinicians in the world don't have a measure of "healthy weight" for individual humans, not to mention children, and also don't have a method for getting people there without causing illness in some and repeated damage in most, then why does Baer Canyon High think it does? Giving scholarships based on BMI is akin to offering scholarships for height, for self-harm, for setting oneself up for a lifetime of metabolic and psychiatric problems. Oh, and sorry anorexia patients and those predisposed for them: you're not eligible because "some people don't need to lose weight." You're already perfect and don't need a scholarship anyway.

Dieting doesn't "work." Living a healthier lifestyle isn't measured by weight. This facile belief that we can just choose a weight off a chart and "achieve" it by dint of will is so demonstrably false it pains me. That the diet industry sells this idea is to be expected, but a school - really? Really?

Baer Canyon High administrators, should you read this, I know you mean well. I also know you will misunderstand the message here because you are operating under common but flawed assumptions. You will think that I'm plying a defeatist, self-justifying, pessimistic view and that I'm wrong on the science. Tell you what: keep stats on your little project here. Follow those students for 10, 20 years. And then when public health policy catches up with the science and those adults you've harmed -- with ongoing metabolic and mental problems REWARDED by your policies -- can hold you accountable.

It gives me no pleasure to know that I'm right here. I'd really rather be wrong.


  1. That is simply stunning.

    Well, that and the fact that my doctor's office (the whole group) is getting ready to compete on The Biggest Loser.

  2. I am so with you on this one! I hate those 'biggest loser' type shows. But they are bad enough with consenting adults participating. This involves impressionable teenagers - the ones (as an educator myself) we should be protecting.
    I stood in the breakfast line at the camp cafeteria with my students this morning silently seething (actually my hands were shaking I was so livid) as the lady served every boy two pancakes and then *asked* the girls if they wanted one or two? Without meaning to she was literally putting every girl in the position of having to make a decision about whether to be 'good' and just eat one or to be 'greedy' and ask for two - my students are 10!
    I stayed silent because I didn't think it was my place to question her in front of the students - but I never will again. I was there on behalf of their parents and it is my responsibilty to protect them.
    I don't know if such a small thing can cause as much damage the humungous mistake this high school is making. But it really felt like a big deal to me this morning. Everyone one of those girls thought before they answered. And quite a few who asked for two looked humiliated by it.
    All I can say is I hope no other schools follow their lead...

  3. One word: unbelievable!

  4. I wanted to get on a plane and go speak to this school as soon as I read this. Full of rage. And lack of science. It is utter bullshit

  5. Considering that "Baer Canyon High [is] a charter school slated to open in the fall with a mission of focusing on medical and sports science, in addition to traditional curriculum", doesn't it seem like it will be attractive to the very students most unlikely to need to 'improve' their BMI to begin with?

    My d improved her BMI very much...from 18 to 24. It made all the difference to her mental health! I know the difference in her health at those two BMIs was vastly more improved than any 'normal' student going from BMI 30 to 24. Think she'd qualify for a scholarship?

    Even if you buy the idea that a lower BMI automatically equals better health (and that we have some control over our genetics), what appears to be an altruistic reward for improving one's health is actually a reward for having poor health habits in the first place. Pity the poor parents who brought their children up with good eating habits, regular exercise and blessed genetics--they shall be penalized.

    Pretty ridiculous all around!


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