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We are busily destroying forests, depleting soils, and generally ruining large swathes of the planet to produce food of secondary or dubious quality, some of which may have long-term side effects. I hope that you will remember this, and still manage to enjoy your next meal or bar of chocolate. In general, I would like to stimulate better attitudes to encourage improved taste and more efficient food handling. Attacking obesity will additionally offer the benefits of a healthier life. I very much enjoy food, including chocolate, but I take part in an active sport (fencing), so am lucky to retain a body mass index (BMI) of 24. Hence I am not currently concerned about my weight. Nevertheless, I see obesity in the city around me, and the devastation and havoc it wreaks on many people, not only in terms of mobility, but in all aspects of their enjoyment of life and long-term health, plus the selfish strain they put on their families and taxpayers.

I realize that citing a BMI value is a useful guide relating height and body weight, but it is in European units of metres and kilograms (BMI is mass in kilograms divided by the square of one’s height in metres). So in the UK and the USA, the majority of people will have a problem estimating their BMI. Both countries use height in feet and inches, but in the USA, weight is quoted in pounds, whereas the UK uses stones and pounds. The healthy ideal range of BMI is around 20 to 25. Below that is thin, and above is overweight. A BMI value over 30 is invariably obese for normal people.

Professional athletes may need different guidelines. For example, a 6 foot 3 inch American football player may easily weigh 250 lb, which gives a BMI of 31.3. Technically, this is in the range of obese, but I certainly would not be willing to point this out to such an athlete. For the normal public, a useful guide to attain the 20—25 BMI range for people who are 5 feet, 5 feet 6 inches, or 6 feet tall, is 102—28 lb, 123—55 lb, and 147—82 lb (or, in stones and pounds, 7 stones 4 lb to 9 stones 1 lb, 8 stones 10 lb to 11 stones, and 10 stones 7 lb to 13 stones 1 lb, respectively).

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