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Killing Your Sacred Cows since 1992
Yet more proof that Weight Watchers doesn't care about your health 
14th-Oct-2005 11:49 am
Me
Weight Watchers wanted to pay Renee Zellweger to lose enough pounds that she would officially be below the range they officially deem as being healthy:

http://www.bigfatblog.com/archives/001077.php#comments

From the comments:

WW claim they are promoting health. How can they claim this and pay Renee to lose weight?

Renee is 5'5" right? And the heavy weight [for the "Bridget Jones" movie] is 145 or so? She plans to drop back down to 106 lbs, right?

Take a look at WW's height/weight table. Look at the healthy weights for a 5'5" in person. 120 lbs to 144 lbs. Remember: Those are THEIR numbers!

What bothers me about Weight Watchers campaign is this:
Renee is being paid to drop her weight from a level that Weight Watchers themselves lists as just one pound above the healthy maximum for people bewteen 25 and 45 to a weight WW considers to be 14 lbs below the healthy minimum.

WW is paying her to diet down to a weight they officially think is unhealhty!
Is WW trying to send the message: Our numbers are upper bounds? (But we don't quite want to come out and say this... because.. well,...?)

My BMI is 21. Based on my reading this is 1-2 BMI points below the value that correlated with optimum longevity for groups of American women near my age.
Am I supposed to see the WW ads, hear WW is paying her and think: Oh... Renee is intentionally aiming for 17, I should too? BMI of 17!

Ed. to add: I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with having a BMI of 17 (slightly below the "ideal" range), anymore than there's anything inherently wrong with having a BMI of 32 (a few points above the cut-off for being labeled "obese"). But I do think that it's hypocritical of Weight Watchers to encourage someone to lose weight to the point that they are 14 pounds below what WW considers, by *their own policies* to be a healthy weight.
Comments 
14th-Oct-2005 08:57 am (UTC)
Bleh. I need to stop following your BFB link. I start out agreeing with your post, then I want to vent about the BFB commenters. (This time: Sorry, but she IS zaftig at her Bridget Jones weight. Maybe on the thin side of zaftig, but the "she's not fat enough to be FAT!" talk is annoying.)

Renee's Edge of Reason weight is a nice size, although I personally think she would have looked better about 10 pounds lighter. The thing about Hollywood is, in most cases, because you have to be thin to get in, you're morely likely to have the body type that just doesn't carry weight well. Oprah and Mannheim are some exceptions, as is Tyne Daly, but Kristy Alley and Renee Zellweger do look better thinner (although not as thin as their "got famous" weights, IMO).
14th-Oct-2005 09:00 am (UTC)
Oh, I agree that some of the comments are ridiculous, and I hate it when fat-lovers bash thin people. We both know that some people are naturally thin and don't look that way because they're vain or anorexic.

I have no opinion about what weight looks best on celebrities or anyone else; I just like pointing out the fact that weight loss is often about trying to obtain a ridiculous beauty standard and health effects be damned.
14th-Oct-2005 09:17 am (UTC)
I definitely agree with the point of your post. I was also confused when Sarah Ferguson was a WW spokesperson, similar reasons. Kristy Alley did seem to be above the parameters of "healthy weight" (whether or not one agrees with those parameters), so she was a better selection (and she's for Jenny Craig, anyway, not WW).

Subway's also lucky that Jerrod hasn't gained it back. Then, I think Jerrod IS one of the rare ones, who legitimately changed his lifestyle rather than just changing his diet.

(side grumbles about checking the login... sorry :D)
14th-Oct-2005 10:04 am (UTC)
Kirsty Alley is confusing, though. She doesn't come across as a positive role model. She has more of a "I hated my FAT self because I was FAT and ugly!" thing going, almost like self-hatred (not the desire to eat healthier or even look better) was her motivation.
14th-Oct-2005 10:07 am (UTC)
True. I meant "Better" as in "superficially more logical given the alleged goals of the organization." As far as I can tell, Alley has a lot of baggage tied to her weight (both being heavy and being thin), which baggage she wears on her sleeve, and from that standpoint, yeah, she's a bad role model for weight loss.
14th-Oct-2005 11:55 am (UTC)
On the other hand I think that if it is ridiculous to say that all people with a BMI over 25 must be unhealthy, it is equally ridiculous to say that all people with a BMI under 18 are unhealthy. I can't say that I've ever observed Renee Zellweger closely enough to say what sort of frame she has, but it think it's entirely possible that with her frame, a BMI of 17 is far healthier and more natural than a BMI of 25. I don't know. If this is true, does this mean that perhaps she wouldn't make the best role model for more normal framed people? Probably so. But on the other hand, I'm also somewhat uncomfortable with this assumption (true though it might be) that the average person is too stupid to tell what BMI should be healthy, depending on frame type, instead assuming that one BMI fits all. Just feels patronizing to me, I guess.
14th-Oct-2005 12:22 pm (UTC)
I agree with the gist of what you're saying. However, there is some data that shows that that having a BMI in the "overweight-but-not-obese" range correlates with a longer life span than being just one point under your "ideal" BMI range.

That DOESN'T mean that all thinner-than-average people are going to die young any more than anyone with a BMI of over 30 is fated to have a heart attack and die in his/her 30s.

Really, in my opinion, the best thing is to take a "weight-neutral stance" on health. It's about eating well, getting moderate amounts of exercise, and allowing your body to find a weight that feels natural for you without resorting to health-damaging extremes (3-4 hours of vigorous exercise a day, restricting calories to less than 1,000 a day, etc.).
14th-Oct-2005 12:46 pm (UTC)
Sure, but constantly pointing out the research that says that underweight people are going to die earlier is not exactly weigh-neutral either. If you are going to be weight-neutral, be truly weight-neutral, not just when it is convenient for your arguments. I think is far more helpful to point out the research that says the true benefits for health issues are in making good choices about diet and exercise rather than paying attention to the numbers on the scale without having to malign people at either end of the scale. I think making a big deal about either extreme does contradict your stated intention and does undermine your argument.
14th-Oct-2005 12:56 pm (UTC)
I think if you look over my posts on diet, weight, and food and take them as a whole, my message IS that you should focus on eating well and exercising without worrying about the numbers on the scale.

However, in this post, I am pointing out that WW is being hypocritical in helping someone acheive a BMI that they explicitly, according to THEIR OWN POLICY, think is unhealthy.

My only point about pointing out that lower-than-average ("underweight" is a more judgemental term in my opinion) are statistically more likely to die than overweight people is to show up the ridiculousness of relying on BMI and other heigh-weight numbers as THE premier indicator of health or non-health.

I am sorry if this post or any other comes across as saying that there's *anything* wrong with being thin.
14th-Oct-2005 12:59 pm (UTC)
sorry for all the typos there. "lower-than-average people"

height-weight

premiere
14th-Oct-2005 02:24 pm (UTC)
I added a disclaimer saying that I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with having a BMI of 17, just that I think WW is being hypocritical in this instance.
14th-Oct-2005 12:25 pm (UTC)
And, for the naturally thin, not becoming a motionless slug or resorting to weight-gaining diets to attain some "curvy" ideal, either. :)
14th-Oct-2005 08:58 am (UTC)
At 6'0" #221 my BMI is 30 and I am obese.

I am also a kickboxer and a distance runner. I have abs that are visible from across the room. I don't think too much of the system
14th-Oct-2005 08:33 pm (UTC)
the system is not designed for athelete it is designed for people with an certain % of body fat.

there is a lot more to BMI than laymen get to see, including who is an approriate candiate for a BMI measurement. You sir, are not.
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