The Men Who Made Us Empty Our Wallets

Over the last month there's a been a two-sided documentary series running on the BBC called The Men Who Made Us Fat / The Men Who Made Us Thin. One looks at how our eating habits are influenced by corporations and health guidelines and the latter looks at the diet industry itself; it's creation and the products available to us. 

It's the latter one which has sparked my interest the most, obviously due to my interest in the subject as a consumer, a former Weight Watchers member and as someone recently qualified in diet & nutrition; I've done a million diets, my friends have, my family have - it's a constant conversation topic when you put a group of women together  - it's like a national obsession.

So, what have I learned from watching this show? The main thing that blew my mind was that the weight guidelines on the BMI chart can be described as great works of fiction - and that's me being polite, I could use many, many expletives to discuss this.

In 1943 Met Life Insurance Company introduced a standard weight-height table - and the Body Mass Index was born. Yep, a table compiled by data from a life insurance company. Can you see the problems already? Not many young adults have life insurance, and for some reason no one paid attention to the fact height means 'height when wearing 1 inch heels' (and the tables give unreasonable results if used by someone quite tall or rather short) it also asked weight to be read when wearing 'indoor clothing'. If these variables were ignored the results would be off the mark (have you ever had your height measured in the Doctors office with your shoes on? Thought not.)

What's even worse is that this was called a 'standard' height-weight table. In 1983 'standard' got reworded as 'ideal' and the tables were revised so a large majority of people who fell into the 'desirable' weight band became 'overweight'. And lo, the diet industry was born -  to scare the living daylights out of the people who had been upgraded to 'overweight' and make them constantly want to weight less to get back into the 'desirable' range.

To summarise: they're total nonsense. Created by a data analyst in the 1940's and absolutely useless in helping you set a 'goal weight'. Yet every NHS office carries them and asks patients to adhere to them.


I'm lucky that I have a bit of a modern nurse at my Doctors office, who tells me 'on the record' that my BMI is too high (it's 27) and then tells me 'off the record' that I'm perfectly healthy as I'm active, eat well and have perfect blood pressure. I know not everyone is as lucky as I am and are constantly told to lose weight to get to the magical 25 on the charts, but given what I know now about those charts I'd be perfectly happy to argue my point if it came to that  in her office.


As I've said, I've had a go at almost every diet on the market (and written all about it on this blog), Weight Watchers worked great for me, but nothing has worked better than self-acceptance and learning to like my body as it is. Accepting that who I am, regardless of clothes labels and scale measurements is empowering and enlightening. As long as you're active, eating in a balanced way, and enjoying yourself then you should encounter no major issues. I wish there was more about learning to like yourself more in magazines than there is about how to lose 7lbs in two weeks, or how to look like a Kardashian. You're not a Kardashian! You are you and you are amazing, put down that disgraceful piece of journalism (term used in the loosest sense possible) and start being more accepting of yourself.

Hush crazy brain, hush. 

The two-sided series is still running on the BBC iPlayer (links above) and I cannot recommend it enough, it's fascinating. 

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  1. You're going to love me... I have a project which involves no put downs about self for the whole of October...

    1. HIGH FIVE. Give this old post of mine a re-read: