Lewis Bowling: BMI study a ‘pile of rubbish’

Feb. 06, 2013 @ 03:45 PM

A recent study made headlines around the world. It found that people who are moderately overweight, up to 30 pounds or so above normal, have a slightly lower risk of premature death than those at a normal weight. The study used body mass index (BMI) as a criteria, which is basically a measurement of height and weight. BMI is pretty much useless information for most people. An example would be Duke basketball player Mason Plumlee. Mason is listed as 6 feet 10 inches tall at a weight of 235 pounds. On a BMI calculation, he would be listed at 24.6, where 25.0 to 29.9 is considered overweight. Now look at the great physique of Mason the next time Duke plays and tell me if he is even close to overweight or has too much fat. The young man is built like most of us would envy. So don’t pay too much attention to this study. I’ll put my two cents in agreement with Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health, who when asked to comment on the report, said, and I quote directly, “The paper is a pile of rubbish.”
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Several readers got in touch with me about last week’s column on Dr. Robert Lefkowitz of Duke, who recently won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Dr. Lefkowitz has practiced a healthy lifestyle for many years, which no doubt has helped him get to the top of his profession. He is a great example I can use in the future when I hear someone say that they don’t have time to exercise. When Noble Prize winners make time to exercise, most of us can.
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I just don’t get any sympathy for Lance Armstrong. He cheated for years to win the Tour de France, and lied repeatedly about it. Now I was never a professional athlete, although I was a high school and college athlete, but I will never understand how a person can feel a sense of accomplishment in an athletic contest or event if they used illegal drugs to do it. I mean, if you win a bike race, a weightlifting event, a Super Bowl, or what have you, but you had to cheat to do it, how can you possibly feel good about what you did? But getting back to Lance, I don’t buy the argument that some make that he did so much good for cancer victims that his cheating should be overlooked. Lance is not sorry that he doped to win. He is sorry he got caught.
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I probably love sports as much as anyone. Always have, and always will. But things are just “out of whack.” Nick Saban is the football coach at Alabama, and he has coached the Crimson Tide to three national titles and I’m sure deserves his $5 million-a-year contract. In fact, when I talked recently to a former Alabama athletic director, Hootie Ingram, he told me that in his opinion Coach Saban is underpaid, based on the amount of publicity he generates for Alabama. But get this: You could pay 100 school teachers $50,000 a year for what one man is making. How about this? In the ACC in 2010, according to the American Institutes for Research, universities on average spent $103,000 on each student-athlete, while spending $15,000 on each non-athlete student. Crazy, isn’t it?
Lewis Bowling teaches at N.C. Central University and Duke University. He is the author of several books on fitness and sports. His website is www.lewisbowling.com. He can be reached at 919-530-6224 and at Lewis_Bowling@yahoo.com.