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.

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

One hour of making beds burns 136 calories (based on a 150-pound person) or the equivalent of 0.2 Big Macs. That's a lot of beds, but not much of a burger.


90: Percentage of all deaths tied to pollution that occur in low-income and middle-income countries

Source: Lancet

Doc Talk

Diplopia: Double vision

Phobia of the Week

Atychiphobia: Fear of failure

Never Say Diet

--Sponsored Video--

The Major League Eating record for grapes is 8 pounds, 15 ounces in 10 minutes, held by Cookie Jarvis, a professional speed eater who, not surprisingly, holds a bunch of these records.

Best Medicine

A physician notices Bob, an inveterate hypochondriac, sitting in his waiting room.

"Not again, Bob," says the doctor. "It's only Wednesday. You were here Monday."

Bob nods: "Couldn't come yesterday. I was sick."


"It's easier to change a man's religion than to change his diet."

--Anthropologist Margaret Mead

Medical History

This week in 1850, Gail Borden of Brooklyn, NY, received a U.S. patent for his process of baking a combination of extracts from meat with flour to produce a so-called "meat biscuit" that could be stored long-term and used by soldiers, seamen and travelers. Because it could be reconstituted with hot water as a soup, the patent title was "Preparation of Portable Soup-Bread." Six years later, Borden perfected a process to heat milk in a vacuum to produce a condensed version also capable of extended storage.

Q: Which has more bones: the hand or the foot?

A: The hand, by one bone - 27 to 26.

Last Words

"I am dying. It's a long time since I drank champagne."

--Russian physician and dramaturge Anton Chekhov (1860-1904), upon being given a glass of bubbly on his death bed


To find out more about Scott LaFee and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Copyright 2018 Creators Syndicate Inc.


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