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The other day, Clare Rager texted five of her girlfriends.
“I’m going to be eligible for the vaccine purely because of my body weight, and no other reason,” she wrote. “Do you think it’s a terrible thing for me to do, to get in there and get a vaccine?”
Rager is a lawyer who works entirely from home, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She’s 33, and has no obesity-related conditions like diabetes or hypertension.
If you saw her walking down the street, she says, “you might think, ‘That woman’s chubby, but you certainly wouldn’t think, ‘Oh, she has a scary medical condition. So to some degree, I can pass as not eligible to be in this group.”
“This group,” in her case, means people with obesity — a body mass index (BMI) over 30. In her state and several others, the condition makes you eligible for an early coronavirus vaccine, just like cancer or Alzheimer’s.
Unlike those conditions, the BMI-based definition of obesity is faulty. The term is stigmatizing. There’s debate as to whether being in a larger body really does increase your risk of complications from COVID-19, or if the real risk is medical bias towards fat people.
Sometimes, people who technically have obesity don’t know they fit the BMI criteria.
But health experts agree: If your BMI makes you eligible for the vaccine, don’t hold back. Yes, the rollout is imperfect, and BMI is a poor indicator of health. But you didn’t make the rules.
To conquer this pandemic, we need shots in arms. Not getting the vaccine can hurt us all.
Some people with high BMIs are reluctant because the metric is a poor indicator of health
According to the CDC, 42% of American adults have obesity. All that means is they have a certain height-to-weight ratio. It doesn’t tell us about how much body fat they have or where it’s stored, how active they are or how healthy they eat, or anything about their race or socioeconomic status.
After all, BMI was originally developed as an epidemiological tool to assess largely white, 19th century European populations, not as a substitute for individualized diagnoses.
“On an individual level, BMI may not be a perfect indicator of someone’s health risk. It’s one of several measurements that we have to assess health risks,” Dr. W. Scott Butsch, director of obesity medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, previously told Insider’s Gabby Landsverk.
As such, some people who qualify as having obesity but don’t think they’re at an increased risk of sickness from COVID-19 are questioning the ethics around getting a vaccine.
Michelle Dimuzio, a 32-year-old designer in Brooklyn, is one of them. At her last doctor’s appointment in the fall, her lab work painted a picture of a young woman in perfect health. She’s been even more active since then — switching her default transportation from the New York City subway to her bike.
But her 5-foot-4, size 12 body has a BMI over 30, making her eligible for the vaccine. She’s getting her first dose this week.
“Part of me …read more
Source:: Business Insider