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Should we really be putting high BMI in the same category as pulmonary disease and cancer?

Image: Andriy Onufriyenko/Getty Images

On February 14, New York State released a new set of eligibility criteria for the Covid-19 vaccine. While the initial phases of the vaccine rollout focused on older adults, first responders, and other essential workers, the vaccine is now available to an estimated 4 million more New Yorkers who have a chronic health condition associated with an increased risk of contracting the virus or experiencing its severe consequences. On the list, which matches federal guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: cancer, pulmonary disease, heart disease — and obesity, defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30…

A century ago, few Americans had any idea how much they weighed. Here’s why that changed so dramatically.

Photo illustration source (Getty Images): Peter Dazeley; qingwa; typhoonski; trekandshoot; oonal

In 1922, the Commissioner of Health for Chicago had a scale installed in the lobby of City Hall. Any and all passersby were invited to come in, step on, and find out what they weighed. City residents soon flocked to the building and lined up all day long to check their weight. The scale was the hottest ticket in town.

Thirty years earlier, most Americans had no idea what they weighed — nor did their physicians. Doctors and hospitals had had scales since the 1870s; they just weren’t a part of standard health evaluations. Certainly, there were sociocultural attitudes and…

Weight stigma in health care can impact the care people get for Covid-19

Illustration by Anson Chan for Elemental

On October 24, Amanda Martinez Beck of Longview, Texas, told her husband: “You need to take me to the ER.” Their whole family had tested positive for Covid-19 a week earlier — Beck’s husband, Zachary, is an English professor and their best guess is that he brought the virus home from campus, or that Beck picked it up at the community pool where she sometimes swims. Within a few days, Zachary and their four children were all on the mend. But despite prescription albuterol, steroids, and antibiotics, Beck was still coughing and sleeping in a recliner at night because staying…

An obesity specialist reveals four overlooked contributors

Photo: Cathy Scola/Getty Images

A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association should serve as an eye-opener to any American who has ever struggled with their weight — but not for the reason the researchers suggest. To me, an obesity specialist, the study serves as a stark reminder of both society’s and health care’s gross misunderstanding of the obesity epidemic.

In short, the JAMA study found that more Americans than ever before are dieting these days, and yet weight continues to trend up. According to the research, the number of people dieting in 2015–2016 increased by 23% compared to the number…

While the nation has been wringing its hands over an obesity epidemic, another public health crisis is raging

Photo: UpperCut Images/Getty Images

For the last 20 years, Americans have been embroiled in a full-fledged health and morality panic about the widely reported obesity epidemic. Nightly news, newspapers and daytime talk shows alike bemoan the state of American bodies, while often failing to report the 1998 change in the BMI’s definitions of “overweight” and “obese,” or the racist history of the BMI itself. Health reporting frequently cites the dangers of living in a fat body. Most people don’t give it a second thought, with some of us even coming to believe that a higher BMI necessarily means that all fat people will come…

Illustrations by Thoka Maer

Anorexia has serious implications at any weight, but heavier patients face a pervasive, harmful stigma

Shira Rose and I are eating avocado toast at a Bluestone Lane in midtown Manhattan. Or rather, I’m eating avocado toast and Rose is looking for her phone. “I need to take a picture,” she says. Rose is a well-known body positive style blogger and influencer, but this photo isn’t for the ’gram; at least, not entirely. After she eats everything but a few crusts, Rose needs to text a photo of her empty plate to her dietitian — to prove she’s eating.

Now 30, Rose has struggled with anorexia nervosa since she was 10 years old. Earlier this year…

The Nuance

Turns out those bubbles may be trouble

Photo by Brittany Greeson/The Washington Post via Getty

Every week, the Nuance will go beyond the basics, offering a deep and researched look at the latest science and expert insights on a buzzed-about health topic.

The beverage that was once relegated to Perrier-sipping sophisticates is now among the most popular in America, and for obvious reasons: Who wants to drink boring still water when you can titillate your taste buds with a snappier alternative like LaCroix Pamplemousse? Especially for erstwhile (or still-hooked) soda addicts, sparkling water is a helpful aid — a drink with all the effervescence and none of the sweetener-induced guilt.

But every now and then…


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