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Health & Spirit

The President's Number

Scott LaFee on

President Trump had a physical recently, after which his Navy doctor declared that he stood 6-foot-2 and weighed 236 pounds, which based on the Body Mass Index (BMI) scale, defined him as overweight but not quite in the category of obese.

There were many skeptics, who doubted both the numbers and the conclusion. But there are other things to consider when talking about BMI, which is calculated by dividing weight by the square of height. (You can find lots of BMI calculators online.)

Though it's considered an indicator of body fatness, it really measures excess weight rather than excess fat. Age, sex, ethnicity and muscle mass can all influence the relationship between BMI and body fat. On average, older adults tend to have more body fat than younger adults with equivalent BMIs. Women tend to have greater body fat than men with equivalent BMIs. And heavily muscled individuals, such as professional athletes, might have BMIs indicating obesity because muscle is, well, heavy.

Still, it's good to know your BMI because it correlates strongly with health risk. A high BMI predicts future disease and death.

Tax Cheetos

Some taxes may be good for your health. In a new study, researchers say a national junk food tax might achieve two desirable goals: 1. It could reduce the amount of junk food consumed by making it more expensive, thus helping in the fight against diseases blamed on unhealthy foods, and 2. the (excise) tax revenue could be used to fund public health initiatives.

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Previous research has already found that taxes on sugary drinks and subsidies to promote the consumption of produce have been associated with reductions in cardiovascular deaths.

Body of Knowledge

You're born with more than 300 bones, but as you age, some fuse together (think skull, for example) and by the time you're an adult, you have 206.

Life in Big Macs

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