Archive for January, 2011

I no longer weigh myself – how NHS local is changing my life

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

I have always said that the hallmark of a good writer is one who is changed through her words.

The purpose of writing is to make a difference. If words don’t make a difference to the author, then why should they have an effect upon anybody else?

It is now almost a year since I have been working for NHS local, a digital service for the NHS in the West Midlands.

I have been handling the words and video on the site for long enough to ask myself the question: “What difference has this content made to my life?”

As it happens it has made a difference in so many ways I will need to write not just one post, but a series to explain it all.  This is the first.

I no longer weigh myself

I no longer weight myself - scales and the body mass index are rubbishI used to find it so disheartening to find that the more I worked out, the more I weighed.

“Muscle weighs more than fat,” my friends would tell me, as I noted that I had lost two inches from waist and gained seven kgs.

I know, I know – or at least I did at one level.

And yet the NHS continues to use the bloody body mass index (BMI) as a way of assessing if someone is obese, even though the index does not measure if the weight is due to muscle or fat.

It’s very difficult to really believe that weighing yourself is a waste of time, when our national institution responsible for health asks you to step on the scales in an attempt to assess your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer.

Thanks to NHS local, I can now say: “Bog off” to my scales and to the body mass index. The service has made a film of two women, of similar height, both classed as overweight in BMI terms.  The women were put through a body volume index (BVI) scanner that can distinguish between muscle and fat at Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham.  Despite being a similar height and weight, the scanner found one woman was healthy and the other needed to lose some fat.

At last, I can fully believe what my friends and Phil, my highly-toned and clincially obese (in BMI terms) personal trainer is telling me.  “Muscle weighs more than fat.” It really does. Thank you, Dr Asad Rahim, from Heartlands Hospital.

As for you, scales. “Bye bye.”  I measure my waist and that’s all.