>Tales of the Golden Numbers

>Well, that’s a catchy and deceptive title. This post isn’t going to be nearly as sexy as it sounds. One of my clients–or should I be like all the department stores and call them “guests”; why is that supposed to make me feel warmer and fuzzier about them than “customers” did?–passed along an article (thanks,Lee) about the link between Body Mass Index (BMI) and mortality (otherwise known as “death”; I should have made this the euphemism blog).

Cut to the chase: there is a link. People whose BMI is between 20 and 25 on average live longer. We’ll ignore for the moment the jogger who runs in front of a school bus. Big duh, you say? Well, yeah, big duh because for quite some time we’ve heard conflicting reports not only on the validity of BMI but what the numbers meant. Some research indicated that as you got older, carrying around a little more poundage could be protective. All these studies were conducted by doctors over 50 who were attending weekly drug company sponsored pig-outs, by the way. On the other side were the researchers studying severe calorie restriction as the key to longer life–or maybe eating so little just makes it feel longer.

This latest research, reported in The New England Journal of Medicine, not USA Today, and thus relatively legit, leads us back to the Golden Number: a BMI of between 20 and about 25 (24.9, to be precise). Notice this research didn’t just say “below 25.” An important key to this is that, especially as we age (you know who you are), being a twig isn’t necessarily any better than being a redwood. When illness hits, the body needs some reserves–it just doesn’t need the seven twinkies you had for dinner last night.

 How do you know your BMI? The easiest way is to google “bmi calculator” and you’ll get a bunch of sites where all you have to do is put in your height and weight and they’ll pump it out for you. Math nerds out there, here’s the full formula: Multiply your height in inches by 2.54 to get your height in centimeters. Make that meters by putting a decimal point two over from the right. Square that number (c’mon, if you’re a math nerd, you shouldn’t need me to explain. . .oh well, multiply that number by itself). Take your weight in pounds and divide by 2.2 to get kilograms. Now divide your weight by your height squared and, Bob’s your uncle, you’ve got your BMI. Is it Golden?

The moral of our boring tale of the quest for the Golden Number: Neither a Modigliani nor a Rubens be. L’chaim!

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