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BMI Bull$hit and the Narcissism of the Medical Community (Pt 1 of 2)

Hands on hips,  rounded stomach pooched out, the plus-size “telly” nurse almost glowered down at my husband in his hospital bed. While telemetry wires sprouted from his hospital gown, she proclaimed emphatically, almost angrily,  “We don’t get vegetarians in this ward!” Apparently, he wasn’t suffering nearly enough! Oh no! Now the nurse was blaming and shaming him (and me as Chief-Cook-and-Bottle-Washer) for his heart problems.


That’s what I call “the bedside manner of a rhinoceros” and it didn’t set well. This article (Parts 1 and 2) is about the narcissism of the medical community. How they blame us for our own health problems…health problems you and I know we did not cause and should not be blamed for. In this article, you and I are pushing back against all the shame, all the false guilt, all the assumptions of over-eating that simply aren’t true. We’re going to explore the BMI brainwashing bullshit and yes, put the blame for the epidemics of obesity and autoimmune diseases where they really belong.

As a lifelong BBW (Big, Beautiful Woman) myself, I took great offense at the BBW nurse’s adamancy that Michael had basically caused his own health problems by not being vegetarian, or by not following the prohibitively expensive Mediterranean diet, etc. To listen to her, you would think I was a near murderess, my weapons a frying pan and spatula. (As if I need more shame and false guilt!) To listen to her, you would think my husband was purposely committing suicide-by-buttered-toast. Every nurse, every doctor, every nutritionist at the hospital had but one thing to say: fish-chicken-fish-chicken-fish-chicken-olive-oil. It made me wonder what the nurses told Bob Harper of The Biggest Loser when he, fit trim and healthy, almost died from a heart attack. Did he receive the same merciless guilt trip!? (Oh no! Being a celebrity, his heart attack was blamed on bad genetics. Methinks there is a double standard here!)

What was conspicuous was a narcissistic, blatant ignoring of The Rest of the Story…even when I told the doctors and nurses The Rest of the Story. They didn’t want to hear what was really going on. No one believed us when we said, utterly truthfully, that Michael eats like a bird. No one acknowledged that some of my husband’s medications, the medications they were prescribing, actually cause hypertriglyceridemia and extreme weight gain. No one acknowledged that Gulf War Illness causes heart disease among military men at young ages. (Michael had his first-and-only heart attack at 34.) They didn’t want to know that we eat lean meats, homegrown vegetables and homemade bread. They didn’t want to hear any of it! They didn’t believe any of it! No! It was all Michael’s fault. It was all my fault. They may as well rename the telly ward, “Fat, Gluttonous, Over-Eating, Under-Exercising Pigs Ward.” That’s how you’re made to feel.

How is that slew of blame, shame and false guilt not narcissistic!? Even more, how is it constructive?

It wasn’t until my cardiologist offered to improve on God by rewiring my perfectly functioning stomach (aka gastric bypass – no, thank you very much!) that I really began to take a hard look at this vile thing called the “BMI.” I started to ask if Dr. Ancel Keys who introduced the Mediterranean Diet in the 1950s was correct. Food became such a dirty word, such a source of guilt during 2018, I seriously looked into anorexia as a career path. (But it turns out that eating nothing actually creates very high cholesterol levels. Hmmmmm, they never tell you that!)

As I researched, I discovered some very disturbing and, ahem, little-known, facts about the wartime activities of Dr. Ancel Keys. I also followed the money trail…the billions of dollars made from shaming us for putting all that nasty, horrible food in our mouths.  The cherry on top was a book that crossed my path entitled Japanese Women Don’t Get Old or Fat: Secrets of my Mother’s Tokyo Kitchen. (With a title that annoying, you just have to, well, read it! More about that in Part 2.)

What I discovered along the way was a whole lot of medical narcissism, half-truths and massive financial gain, but not a whole lot of open-minded, let’s-consider-all-the-facts science.

Let’s start with the BMI. According to the Gospel According to Wikipedia, the BMI was developed by “Adolphe Quetelet, a Belgian astronomer, mathematician, statistician and sociologist…between 1830 and 1850.” Stop right there. For starters, he wasn’t a doctor! And secondly, please tell me Mr. Quetelet’s original height-to-weight ratios have been updated for the 21st century and are tailored to the different physical traits of difference ethnicities!

I mean, did he take into account that society dictates we modern women have huge bosoms and Kim Kardashianesque derriere’s!? According to Quora, “ A pair of D-cup breasts weighs between 15 and 23 pounds.” Does the BMI take that into consideration? What about muscle? Bone mass? Water retention?

With advances in farming practices and the greater availability of good nutrition, mankind is taller, stronger and larger than they were in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. That’s easily proven if you take a look at clothing from the 19th and early 20th centuries in museums. The suits and dresses were tiny. In fact, when the United States joined World War I, our European Allies were shocked by the sheer size of those big American farmboys (“Overpaid, oversexed and over here.“-Chicken Run)

According to a 2013 article in Time, “For years, scientists have said that BMI can’t distinguish between fat and muscle, which tends to be heavier and can tip more toned individuals into overweight status, even if their fat levels are low.” That’s true! The scale claims I’ve put on thirty pounds since moving from the City to the Country, but I’ve only increase maybe one dress size. Why? Muscle! As a City Girl, I had very little muscle. As a Country Girl, I regularly lift fifty pound bags of sugar or flour and once carried an engine out of my Living Room. It’s a long story! (You might be a redneck if, there’s an engine in your living room!”)

The Time article goes on to say, “In the journal Science, the…BMI cannot take into consideration …visceral fat [which] is more harmful than fat that [is] simply sitting under the skin….Even relatively thin people can have high levels of visceral fat, which means they might be considered healthy by BMI standards, but internally they may actually be at higher risk of developing health problems related to weigh gain.” My chubby grandfather outlived most of his svelte coworkers who were assumed to be healthy by virtue of their thinness. So it came as quite a surprise when most of them dropped dead from strokes and heart attacks.

Nor does the BMI consider the mass and density of your bones. CNN admitted, “BMI does have some limitations when it comes to weight and disease risk assessment. In a very large-framed or muscular person like you, BMI may overestimate body fat. Conversely, BMI may underestimate body fat in a very small-framed person, someone who has very little muscle mass…there is no adjustment factor for BMI relative to muscle mass and body frame.”

An excellent example of this is Julia Child. After years of imbibing the cream-and-foie-gras delicacies of France, Julia Child stood 6′ 2″ but only weighed 165 pounds. Fast-forward forty-odd years and we all remember her on Jacques and Julia Cooking at Home, deeply stooped from osteoporosis. Her BMI was perfect, partly because she was so finely boned. (And no, she didn’t die of heart disease. She was just two days from turning ninety-two when her kidneys failed and she died peacefully in her sleep.)

But the BMI, bullshit and all, is big business! In 2017, “IHRSA announced that global health club industry revenue totaled $87.2 billion” and that’s only a tiny percentage of the revenue from the whole weight loss cult or culture: diet plans, diet books, health clubs, exercise equipment, gastric bypasses, liposuction, fat transfers, {fill-in-the-blank} industries all designed to help us bow to the BMI and shrink our tummies and thighs (but not bosoms!) so we don’t meet a fate worse than death: being fat and being offered a gastric bypass by our doctor.

The truth is, yes, there is an epidemic of obesity in the United States and the United Kingdom. But we are not doing it to ourselves. It is being done to us…but I leave it to you to do your own research. What I’ve discovered about the true causes behind the obesity epidemic would not look at all nice in print here.

And after five days in hospital, my husband was discharged with strict order from the Hospital Nutritionist to eat more…not less! She was the only one who actually listened to us.

What about the Mediterranean diet? What about the “never old and fat” Japanese women!? Click here for Part 2!

BMI Bull$hit and the Narcissism of the Medical Community (Pt 1 of 2)

Lenora Thompson

For five years, "Narcissism Meets Normalcy" has followed the real-life, ongoing story of freelance writer, Lenora Thompson, and her readers’ healing journey from narcissistic abuse to healing, peace and happiness. In August 2020, Lenora launched a new blog, "Beyond Narcissism…And Getting Happier All the Time" as she and her readers explore the new world of peace and happiness. "Beyond Narcs…Get Happy" is 100% reader supported! To learn more about Lenora, her husband Michael’s heroic fight against Pulmonary Alveolar Proteinosis and to subscribe to her other writings, please visit Thank you!

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APA Reference
Thompson, L. (2019). BMI Bull$hit and the Narcissism of the Medical Community (Pt 1 of 2). Psych Central. Retrieved on September 22, 2020, from


Last updated: 19 Jan 2019
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