How Much Does Size Matter?

Obesity is the underlying cause of more chronic illness than any other condition in human history. Americans don’t seem to appreciate what constitutes a “serving” and the generation currently in elementary school is likely to be the first in U.S. history to not outlive its parents. So, we must ask again…does size matter?

Size Standards

If only the answer was simple. Through the ages a number of “standards” have been imposed on us that have been unrealistic, barbaric, and sometimes downright sadistic. Since 1950, icons of style and fashion have gone from the curvy 36-24-36 to the waif thin 13-inch waist of Twiggy to the ultra thin heroin look of the 90s to the current standard of …wait, still ultra thin! In Victorian times, a “healthier” looking lady was considered far more attractive than a “skinny” one. Today, our ideals of beauty are more a reflection of the unachievable than the expression of a healthy lifestyle. In an era when thin equals attractive, why are so many Americans obese? Is it rebellion? Have we given up? Or, do we simply not know our wellness destination?
No matter what the standard and no matter how it was established, health conscious people need a reality check. In the 1970s physicians took a first stab at creating standards for growth and development and what an acceptable size might be. Everyone received a complimentary 100 pounds for the first five feet. Men got a bonus 15 lbs for being male and another 15 for each frame size adjustment. Large framed 60-inch tall men could weigh up to 145lbs. After that mark, five pounds an inch for a small frame, 10 pounds for a medium, and up to 15 for a large. Women got far less grace, receiving the same 100 pounds for the first five feet, then five pounds an inch. At each mark there was a 10 pound-range on either side in order to be deemed healthy. So, if a woman were 5’6”, she could weigh 130 pounds ideally, but small framed could be 120 and large 140. That all sounds fine and good, but there is no accounting for muscle mass, frame sizes were poorly defined, and for some body types, these numbers were just way off.