Boy Scouts: Hating on gay boys is out; thank goodness they can still hate on fat boys

iStock_000010124223XSmall

I am so angry I could spit.

In a gesture so cruel, so mean-spirited, so vicious as to defy comprehension, the Boy Scouts of America have banned obese boys from their National Jamboree:

The Boy Scouts used the CDC’s body mass index (BMI), a screening tool for obesity, in deciding whether adults and youth could join the jamboree, which is held every four years. For past jamborees, attendees filled out health forms, received a physical and got a doctor’s release, but the BMI was a factor added for this year’s event, Smith said.

BMIs of 25.0 to 29.9 fall in the overweight range, while those 30.0 or higher are considered obese, the Boy Scouts said.

Those applicants whose BMI was greater than 40.0 were not allowed to participate. Jamboree medical staff had to review all applicants in the 32.0-39.9 range, including checking their health history and the recommendation of the individual’s medical provider.

The stupidity of this is nearly as mind boggling as the viciousness. Do they think that children with a BMI over 40 WANT to be morbidly obese? Do they think these children aren’t miserable enough without being excluded from a rite of passage within the organization? Do they think even a single child will lose weight that he wouldn’t have lost in order to avoid exclusion from their Jamboree?

They don’t know, and I suspect they don’t care. This isn’t about obesity. This isn’t about helping children. This is about hate, pure and simple. Hatred of others who are different is exhilarating for some and for the haters in the Boy Scouts, times have been tough lately.

In the good old days, you could hate on Black Scouts:

In the South, with the “separate but equal” mindset of the times, black [scouting] troops were not treated equally. They were often not allowed to wear scout uniforms, and had far smaller budgets and insufficient facilities to work with. The BSA on a national level was often defensive about its stance on segregation. “The Boy Scouts of America] never drew the color line, but the movement stayed in step with the prevailing mores.” Even so, there was only one integrated troop before 1954 in the Deep South compared to the frequent occurrence of integration in the North. Also, the Scouts in the South did not support social agencies that were allies of the BSA. The YMCA was historically one of the BSA’s strongest supporters, but in Richmond, Virginia, blacks were not allowed to use the Y’s facilities to earn merit badges, specifically for swimming.

But unfortunately for those who love to hate, racism is now officially repudiated.

No problem. The haters could switch to gay Scouts. For years they kept them out of Scouting, but, alas, 2 months ago,the Boy Scouts of America were forced to acknowledge that homophobia has gone out of style, and voted to “allow” gay Scouts, though not gay Scout leaders.

Thank goodness for the fat boys. Now the Scouts can hate on them. And the best part? The haters can self-righteously proclaim they are doing it to improve the health of American children.

The national jamboree is a “physically demanding experience” being conducted at a “high-adventure site,” the Boy Scouts said on its website. “For that reason, physical standards have been set unique to the jamboree. These standards help highlight some of the challenging terrain at the Summit and types of activities that will take place, all with the goal of keeping participants safe.”

Bullshit!

Are they going to exclude the disabled, too. Maybe that will encourage the paralyzed boys to walk again, just like this is going to encourage the morbidly obese to lose weight. Not!

There is no justification for this policy. It is an expression of the last bastion of hate that is officially tolerated in this country, hatred of those who are overweight.

No doubt the vicious people who thought this up (all with “normal” BMIs) are patting themselves on the back for finding a new way to humiliate children who are already the target of teasing and hurtful words. How good it feels to hate on someone who is different, no matter what the source of that difference!

The Boys Scouts of America should be ashamed of themselves for their unspeakable cruelty. They owe an apology to the boys they have gleefully shamed, humiliated and excluded, for no better reason that they are running out of people they are allowed to hate.

  • CoralDuck

    Wow. Banned from certain activites if you were a certain weight (measured in in pounds, not bmi, I can understand.) Banned from standing on top of other kids and doing trust falls, I can also understand. But seriously? Blanket banning people based on BMI? Ridiculous. Maybe they wanted to avoid questions of tact in asking people to skip certain things, but they opened a whole new can of worms.

    Some people have honest to goodness medical issues, some people may not know they have these issues, and other people may just be able to do physical things even though they are overweight. Who cares. Also, back when I was an UNDERWEIGHT middle school kid who did 5 hours of dance class a week, I had a bmi in the overweight category when gym teachers did the test simply because they did the test based on fat in your upper arm, of which I apparently had a disproportionate amount. Whatever. That made me think bmi is a bad system for measuring anything useful.

    • CoralDuck

      Also, they say disabled kids will be able to participate, although not in all activities. Do they have to get tested for obesity, too? That would just be messed up.

  • Amy Tuteur, MD
  • Sharon K

    One should learn all the facts before being so Angry. My daughter who is well below the BMI restrictions and is a sports athlete was at jamboree. She mentioned to me more than once that it is physically demanding to be there. A BMI is not just obese it’s morbidly obese (I know, my medical chart says so). Those with high BMI’s had over a year to work at getting below the standards if they so chose. Some scouts did that. No one was completely Banned as you say, they were told up front over a year ago what the restrictions were and what they would need to do to go. I’m sorry, but take your anger elsewhere from a fat lady who realizes that in order for me to volunteer on staff in 4 years like I would like to, I will have to lose some weight.

    PS. There were accommodations made for disable scouts. They were able to participate in many activities, but not fully depending on their disability. Some scouts even had caregivers along with them.

    • CoralDuck

      It’s great for your daughter that she’s athletic and not an abnormal body type. Just for reference, as a college student, I was a size 0, walked at least 7 miles a day (didn’t bring a car to school), and still tested in the overweight category of BMI index. Whatever, I think I’ll be okay. If I want to add frequent weight training to my life, that’s my business, but I’m in fine condition to do most activities.

      Assuming you get to choose which activities you do, things tend to self select, Ask a group of elementary students if they want to run 5k, and the overweight kids who suspect that they genuinely can’t do it will tend to opt out. Ask that same group if they want to climb a rope, and the really skinny kid with low upper arm strength (and a low BMI, so able to do this camp, right?!!!) probably will opt out.

      Scouting isn’t supposed to be a pure athletic activity. Kids have plenty of other choices for athletic activities. As long as you like to camp, be outdoors, tie knots,do community service projects, hang out with other kids, whatever, you should be allowed to participate in scout camp. Obviously it’s a private organization so they can do what they like, but it’s dumb, members should complain.

      Life is tough enough on kids without demanding that they be super well rounded to be a scout. If you want to encourage kids to be physically fit, should be worth individual badges, not a requirement for camp.

      • Sharon K

        I find it extremely hard to believe at a size 0 you were in the overweight category unless you are extremely short. My daughter who isn’t all that tall, 5’2″ barely, and not stick thin, she wears a 3/4 did not fall into the overweight category.

        Also, again they weren’t excluding those in the obese category. Those who were not allowed were in the MORBIDLY Obese category with a BMI of 40 or more. Those children probably are not going to raise their hands whether it be climbing a rope or running a 5k or many other physical activities.

        If they were, they were given plenty of time ahead of time to find a way to lose weight. Also, they were not excluded from scouting, just a particular event where high adventure, extremely physical activities was the main focus.
        Ohh and let’s not forget almost all rank advancements require some sort of fitness because scouting is not just camping – physically fit, morally straight, and mentally awake.

        • CoralDuck

          Believe whatever you want, but it’s true, and I am short, I’m 5’3″ 🙂 I guess I must carry weight in my upper arms, where they did the test. I was not overweight in terms of any other indicator, I was actually below recommended overall weight for my height.

          Anyway, I’m just saying that BMI isn’t always a perfect indicator of anything in particular.

          I know scouting isn’t just about camping, but it’s not a fitness club, either. There are activities to fit a broad range of interests, which I’m sure is a bonus to a lot of scouts.

          This *is* the primary, big, national get-together/camp event for the year, though, right? Looking at the website, looks like a bigger camper could definitely handle the technology/science stuff, the fishing, skeet shooting, archery, trails, photography, geocaching, etc. Anyway, I get it, if it’s meant to be a more active camp, I can see where they are coming from. I still would be a bit disgusted were I a parent of a child who had trouble meeting the target range but who was otherwise capable, but they are obviously a private group that’s free to do whatever they like.

          The fitness badges and achievements are more about improving and nutritional know how and less about hitting some target number though, right?

          • Sharon K

            Ok, but BMI is not just overweight, it’s a major health risk. These children hiked over 100 miles in their 8 days, not just participated in the activities you mentioned. Those activities you mentioned would be fine for any child, but you had to hike to get there. There also were other required activities that required more physical stamina.
            Let me remind you the BMI was 40 or above for exclusion. This would mean you at 5’3″ would have had to be over 225lbs before not allowed to go. A 5’10” male was able to attend up to 278lbs. Overweight individuals were able to attend. However, if they were extremely overweight chances were extremely high that it would have been a health risk to them.

        • I was in the overweight category at a size 2 before. Women in my family are just dense and muscular.

  • Eater of Worlds
    • Sharon K

      That was just one small activity out of way more than any one scout could do in a single jamboree. And they couldn’t just beam in there, they needed to hike to and from their camp sites which was truly a hike.

  • guest

    As soon as I read this today it put me in mind of the comments on this post. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/19/health/overweight-maybe-you-really-can-blame-your-metabolism.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    It was the twins raised apart and the adoptive-following-biological links that really grabbed me. While I think these findings are significant, I wonder if it will have much effect on people who have really dug in on the issue. It’s already clear to me that factual information published on this site doesn’t change people who have vocally dug themselves in on the safety of lay midwives, home birth, unassisted birth etc. It is human nature to try to be consistent with one’s past statements, despite new information, I think.

    Sort of OT, I would really like to see a post devoted to the appellate court ruling in the Johns Hopkins/homebirth case. I was really struck by the discussion of being in a contributory negligence state versus a comparative negligence state (although I guess the ruling didn’t depend on that). If I were a hospital in a contributory state, (if I’m reading this right, which is a big if) I’d figure out a way to shut down my emergency room ASAP, because the least little mistake that my staff makes will make our hospital liable for all the harm that happened in the big bad world. In any case, it was a huge relief to me that the appeals judges thought the jury should hear about the midwife’s negligence.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      Here is the money quote:

      “The history of obesity for many many years has been one of blaming
      people for lack of self control,” said Dr. Joseph Majzoub, chief of
      endocrinology at Boston Children’s Hospital and lead author of the new
      paper. “If some of it is due to a slow metabolism, that would completely
      change the perspectives of parents and patients. It really would change the way we think of the disease.”

  • Tara

    Exercise and physical activity are good I think we should
    encourage them everywhere. All I’m saying is that a boyscout event dedicated and comprised of vigorous activity would need to be highly supervised by professionals for each individual with risk-factors. I can understand why they cannot accommodate that for a onetime event. They don’t have the supervision or training to appropriately and safely mange the risk of obese individuals for the duration of vigorous activities. They also do not have the background or direct supervision of the individual’s previous activity level. Experts agree, exercise is the best but it should be gradually built up. A two week camp is not a gradual build up. I would truly be concerned for their musculoskeletal systems, stress fractures in lower extremities, cardiac arrest when they attempting the same activities as their peers could lead to over-excursion and not listening to the signals from their bodies. They Boy Scouts cannot be reasonably expected to provide the individualized professional supervision in a two week time- period for children that they have no prior history, knowledge of activities.
    Some of you suggest a Doctor waiver. Waivers are often litigated in court and do not always hold up. Even if you when the court case you are out the costs of your defense. Physical activity should be encouraged by everyone, this two-week event is not an appropriate or safe outlet for obese children to begin vigorous exercise. It’s their safety an injury can be a very long set-back for their health and fitness goals.

    http://bariatrictimes.com/the-role-of-physical-activity-in-the-management-of-childhood-obesity/

    The intensity of the activity performed must also be
    carefully considered and prescribed. An obese or overweight child will reach
    his or her prescribed level of intensity much more quickly than a normal weight
    person simply because of the burden of the extra weight they carry. Once again,
    prescribing too much too soon will likely set the child up for failure, while
    also placing them at greater risk for injury.

    Although using the RPE scale can be effective in prescribing
    intensity of activity, when working with the obese and overweight children,
    particularly at the beginning phases of the activity program, it is important
    to begin the exercise program slowly so as to avoid injury. Having this in
    mind, the focus should be placed on low-to-moderate intensity-type activities.

    MEDICAL CONCERNS DURING EXERCISE FOR THE OBESE CHILD

    Special considerations to be made for the obese child/adolescent include
    maintaining a balance between intensity and duration to promote higher total caloric expenditure. There is also the chance of an increased risk in
    orthopedic injury secondary to the child/adolescent carrying extra weight.
    Consequently, initial intensity may need to be kept at a lower level than what
    is ideal to promote cardiorespiratory fitness. Non-weightbearing activities
    would be ideal for the obese patient, particularly for those with Blount’s
    disease and those with a history of slipped capital epiphyses. Secondary to
    pre-existing respiratory problems, obese subjects may experience more severe dyspnea upon exertion. Balance and anxiety problems may also exist and, consequently, it is of the utmost importance to initially supervise obese patients

    http://books.google.com/books?id=1W2M1lnHeccC&pg=PA320&lpg=PA320&dq=obese+risk+of+injury+vigorous+exercise&source=bl&ots=wCNy7d8gZG&sig=RT9oxrslWdKhyxvZ6mmjnbPTQlQ&hl=en&sa=X&ei=h-zmUf3tG-WgiALb5YG4Cg&ved=0CGgQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=obese%20risk%20of%20injury%20vigorous%20exercise&f=false

    “. Because of this increased orthopedic risk, intensity may
    necessarily be sacrificed for safety, and progression should be gradual. Obese
    individuals are also at increased risk for hyperthermia, and the exercise
    environment should be appropriately adapted.5,7
    Additional attention must be paid to comorbid diseases and to medications such
    as those that may affect vision, sensation, heart rate, blood pressure, and
    blood glucose levels.”

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3096271/

    • Tara

      And as a reply to my own comments, what good would a Dr. waiver be after the injury occurred. What people are overlooking is the severity of BMI at 40 this is not an “overweight, fat, stout,” kid this is a morbidly obese kid, who does absolutely need community support and activities to begin their health journey. A two week outdoor camp focused on vigorous activities is not the place. A regular camping trip with their local group, with the recommendation of their Dr is an excellent way to incorporate more activity. The Boy Scouts do provide these types of activities regularly, so there are plenty of alternate activities. The ironic thing is I don’t even have the best feelings about boyscout lately, just in this case I don’t think they did anything, mean, spiteful, hateful, or engaged of shaming kids. Its quite simply not a safe and appropriate event. The shaming comes from adults who are telling them they should feel bad about not be allowed to attend not the policies.

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    I’m just trying to understand when the boy scouts went from a bunch of kids hanging out doing fun outdoor activities (which was what it was like when I was a member) to a bunch of righteous assholes.

    It seems that right when people started calling them out on their discriminatory policies, instead of saying, yeah, we should be better than that, they doubled down on their bigotry.

    • Lindsay Beyerstein

      This week, Reuters had a great story that partially answers your question. Apparently, Boy Scouts of America decided to distract the public from the sex abuse scandals and the discrimination against gay scout leaders by building the scouting equivalent of Disneyland. The Summit base will cost the better part of half a billion dollars by the time the last nail is pounded. BSA believes that Summit will drive fundraising, but it’s not working out that way.

      Having the Jamboree at Summit seems like a big shift from Jamborees of yesteryear. My brother’s Jamboree was a lot like yours. The highlights were social and the physical demands paled compared to what the kids did every month with their troop.

  • Hmm

    I don’t see how penalizing obesity could incentivize HEALTHY weight loss. If someone’s a BMI point or two over the limit and Jamboree is two months away, a crash diet is going to produce faster results than lifelong changes in eating and exercise that are necessary for nearly everyone.

    Healthy weight loss is an ongoing process that requires patience and lifestyle changes, even if you have a bariatric procedure. The reason crash diets are appealing are because they produce results very quickly, but the long-term costs are never specified.

    Also, is there a minimum weight/BMI limit? While less common, teenage boys can and do develop eating disorders.

    • Sharon K

      Most scouts applied over a year and a half ago to go to Jamboree. They knew that long ago what the BMI restrictions were, so no crash dieting was necessary.

  • Pie

    I apologize that I am late to the conversation, and didn’t read past this comment from 16 hours ago due to time limitations. But I have to take issue with one of Tara’s statements. “They are not getting excluded from boyscouts just one event that they knew the eligibility requirements for, and I think the eligibility requirements make sense.”

    Problem with that–it’s the Boy Scouts’ biggest national event. BSA designed a a high profile event that excludes a group of people. They should have provided options that wouldn’t result in that type of exclusion. Such as, if you don’t meet the BMI standards you can’t take place in certain activities–but we still have some for you.

  • Tommaso Leso

    I almost always agree with you – when you talk about things you know, like childbirth and Science. This time, you are not talking about science, numbers, or things you are an expert in – this is a post in which you express opinions – and you are getting it parlously wrong. You say they do it to “force” boys to lose weight: they don’t, and it is deeply unfair to suppose that they are lying just so that you can decide they are hateful and stupid. Also, they might want to ban disabled people: as they are “banned” from a lot of activities (such as football, running, hiking, jumping), I wouldn’t see a surprise or an injustice in it. Banning morbidly obese children won’t help them lose weight, I agree: but that’s not why they do it. Banning obese children makes sense if you want all the other children to do several activities safely.

    • Wren

      Alternatively, they could ban them from specific activities that would not be safe for them, as they do with disabled children. They could require a medical certificate for every boy who attends, and allow only those who are fit to do an activity to do it.
      Instead of that safer approach which would allow all boy scouts to attend, they banned only those who are already most likely to face discrimination and feel bad about themselves already.

  • Isramommy

    A lot of commentors here are saying that banning morbidly obese children will give them an incentive to work harder and make better choices.

    The big problem with that logic is that many morbidly obese children get that way because they are modeling parental examples and family food habits that are largely beyond their control. These children may also have poor access to nutritional, healthy food choices. Think of the urban “food desert” and the quality of American school lunches, where pizza and french fries are famously classed as “vegitables”. Think about the idea that poor families can feed their kids hamburgers and fries off the fast food value menu for cheaper than the cost of a head of brocoli and salad veggies at the grocery store. It isn’t always so easy for these kids to make those better choices. Obesity in the US is often more the result of poverty than about supposed moral values, gluttony and “hard work”.

    Boy Scouts ought to be helping these kids get outdoors and get moving, not taking away even more opportunities for healthy change.

    • realityycheque

      Exactly. So many children will have little to no control over the food that is served to them/kept in the cupboards at home. Even if some of these kids wanted to lose weight, managing the complexities of dieting in a way that will help them shed lbs whilst still supplying them with adequate nutrition for their growing brains and bodies is no simple task.

      Get them active in a FUN way, teach them healthy habits, but excluding kids based on their size is getting into seriously dangerous territory.

      I work with sufferers of eating disorders and am recovered from one myself; I can categorically say that the emphasis placed on weight and diet during school, coupled with the humiliating task of having to weigh ourselves in front of the other students contributed to my troubles in the long run.

      Childhood obesity is a problem that needs addressing, but I fear approaches such as this one are going to create more problems than they’re going to solve.

      • MichelleJo

        Agreed. Shaming children is not going to get them to lose weight, nor is just telling him to “eat less”. Which is why I told my 74KG 15 year old son who carries it round his middle, that I want him to be healthy, and does he want to go to a nutritionist who will help him to lose it. He has always been the biggest kid on the block, since he was two months old, so I told him that even though it’s not all his fault, it’s still not healthy. He was happy to comply, has lost weight while gaining height, and walks the half hour walk home from school everyday. Not every issue has to be blown up, when there are normal sane ways to deal with it. It’s been a year, he sees the nutritionist once a month, and is still on the right track. I just hope it stays that way!

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          Note: In the US, do NOT go to anyone who sells themselves as a “nutritionist.” They are all a bunch of loons. See a dietician.

          Don’t know the story in other countries.

          • RockSci

            Nutritionists can be fine, they can be dietitian who want to use a job title that people don’t associate with crash dieting – the problem is they don’t HAVE to have any qualifications at all, so you do need to check them out. Same over here in the UK.

          • MichelleJo

            This nutritionist is no loony. She works at our health clinic who take nobody without advanced degrees and government licenses. I just loosely translated from Hebrew; she would probably be called a dietician in the US.

        • Tara

          I don’t think shaming children is effective either, but I noticed your son began by walking and I am sure incorporating other physical activities. I’m sure you would see the concern with starting his journey by rock climbing, bouldering,scuba diving, rapelling, etc,

          • Guesteleh

            I would be concerned if a kid of any weight started out rock climbing, etc. without first getting in reasonable shape. The point is not to look at BMI but the kid’s fitness level going in. Create a test they have to complete before they can participate. That way you’re not discriminating explicitly on weight but on what they are able to physically handle.

          • MichelleJo

            Definitely. I wouldn’t want him to be put through a tough exercise regime without clearing it with a doctor. He goes bike riding as well as the walking but only on regular town streets. He also loves swimming, and spends a lot of his vacations visiting the pool. The idea is just to get him used to a lifestyle where you incorporate exercise into your daily activities, and it makes a big difference. OT, but the diet she put him on is not a calorie counting one, but advice on what to avoid, where the pitfalls are, etc. Much more helpful than losing loads of weight on a specific diet with fixed meals and food. Most people get fed up with it eventually and then are back to square one. Diet is just as much about strategy as it is about food.

    • Amazed

      But if they have poor access to heathy food choices, is the Jamboree really going to make such a big change? When it ends, they’ll come back home to poor quality food.

      This thread seems to imply that Boy Scouts are obliged to make a healthy change but no one mentions parental responsibility in all that. At all.

      Again, I don’t approve of this particular requirement. Still, it wasn’t the BSA that brought the kids to modbid obesity… and it isn’t the BSA who can make a lasting change. BSA isn’t in one’s kitchen… right?

  • There’s a flip-side to this, what about the kids with dangerously low BMI’s – are they being singled out too for the health risks associated with being severely underweight? In our obsession with fat, has anyone stopped to think we might be spurring an equally dangerous epidemic of anorexia?

  • Bomb

    Where is the evidence that this was done to be hateful and to shame scouts? This website is supposedly about the facts and mocks NCBers at great length for injecting emotion into situations that don’t warrant it, yet here you are injecting all kinds of emotion into this.

    You believe that the health effects and risk of injury to severely morbidly obese people (which is what, 2% of the population?) are overblown. Doesn’t mainstream medicine pretty much 100% disagree with you? Outside of a couple of studies, isn’t the scientific consensus BMI >40 = unhealthy except in rare cases of highly muscled athletes (which would be rare. Average bmi for an NFL player is less than 32, and people are arguing kids wthi a bmi of 40 are probably all secretly super fit? Come on, that is fantasy.). Isn’t that all on the CDC website?

    Pretty much every mainstream website I look at says something like this:
    “Morbid obesity is a serious health condition that can interfere with basic physical functions such as breathing or walking. Those who are morbidly obese are at greater risk for illnesses including diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), gallstones, osteoarthritis, heart disease, and cancer.”

    “Tanya Zuckerbrot, a New York-based dietitian, said youngsters with BMIs of40 or greater have a higher risk of experiencing a heart attack or stroke during the competition.”

    Difficulty breathing and walking? And your first instinct is that rather than trying to protect these kids they are trying to shame them? There may be better ways to protect the scouts at Jamboree, and certainly ways to include scouts of all sizes and abilitie, but this is straight up bias and hyperbole on your part. This post detracts from the entire blog RE: the message of scientific consensus over emotion and opinion.

    You are demanding evidence that a bmi >40 could endanger scouts. If the scientific consensus says it hinders activity as basic as walking and breathing isn’t the burdon of proof on you to show that is false? Isn’t the burdon of proof on you to show the BSA did this with nefarious intent?

    • Amazed

      I wonder what Dr Amy would say about the morbidly obese woman with amputated leg who died i Hungary after three airplanes couldn’t fit her and she distrusted Hungarian doctors to deal with her condition, so she just traveled around trying to get on a plane to return to the USA until a few days later she died of a renal failure. From a doctor’s perspective, I mean. Her husband’s attorney screams “fat hatred”. And I’ve got another legal opinion from my brother who insisted that they should have been able to accommodate her no matter what, so they are guilty. And if they had agreed to fly her without the seat belt and there was a turbulence and someone got hurt, they would have been guilty, too. My eyes went wide. Now, I’m all for companies taking responsibilities but wow.

      • KarenJJ

        Poor woman. I can see direct liability issues here because the airlines were weighing up taking her on their plane against their equipment ratings (presumably) – the risks were more practical and quantifiable (eg SWL rating limitations or seatbelt length). So in this case: hatred or just equipment that was designed to the mean? In the Scouts example, they don’t appear to be quantifying the actual risk of including someone with a BMI of over 40. They could easily request health checks of people doing rigorous activity or of people with conditions like obesity, asthma etc that wish to participate in these activities.

        • Amazed

          Well, I know the two cases were not comparable. I was just wondering about this particular case. The husband’s attorney claims that since the company already took her out, they should be able to take her back in; on the other hand, on the return flight the backs of the seats were broken and she could not be secured properly AND she had put on lots of additional water weight. I am not sure what I think. But traveling around without special insurance in her state is something I would not recommend.

          There were heartbreaking photos on her on the airport. Still, does that mean that after all their efforts to fit her in, the captains should have flied with her insecured or postpone the flight until the fire brigade (yes, it was summoned in one case) could finally get her to her three seats?

          What was most intriguing to me was the fact that the husband’s attorney screamed “fat hatred” when I see anything but. Unpreparedness to deal with sickly and morbidly obese woman? Yes. Malfunction of the aircraft? Yes. But treating her poorly because she was fat? They did all that could be reasonably expected.

          Maybe the problem was that in Europe, we aren’t all that prepared to deal with morbidly obese and immobile passangers. Still, this Hungarian-born couple should have overcome their distrust of the “socialist’ doctors and go to them. The truth is, many Europeans go to Hungary for medical treatment.

          Still, the claim it was ‘fat hatred’ doesn’t ring true to me. Even my brother agrees.

          We’ll see whether the court will grant the millions requested by the husband.

          • Kerlyssa

            Or they could have gone to another european country. She was capable of land travel. This appears to be a death from medical noncompliance/a progressing set of conditions.

      • Dr Kitty

        The issue (from how you have described it) seems that it was that she was probably medically unfit to fly because of her illness, rather than her weight.
        If she was that unwell she required a medically supervised flight home, not just a standard plane trip, and to be in a local hospital until one was arranged.
        I don’t know why she couldn’t get one, but it seems reasonable for an airline to refuse to carry someone who appeared to be too sick for a transatlantic flight, at least until they had some evidence from a local doctor that she was stable and fit to fly.
        Air travel is a low oxygen, immobile environment. It is not appropriate nor safe for everyone to fly just because they want to get home.

        • Kalacirya

          Some info about that story, to confirm your suspicion. That woman was in some stage of kidney failure, and required dialysis. She chose to go on holiday with her husband overseas, to a country where she didn’t trust the doctors and didn’t make any plans for dialysis. She was suffering from extreme water retention at the time they tried to return, she had been obese before, but fit fine on the plane going to Hungary, she was absolutely not too fat to fly. I saw pictures of her from the end of the trip, she was so bloated her clothes couldn’t even pull to fit around her, this woman didn’t go on holiday with clothing 4 sizes too small. So she had increased greatly in size, and was in an unstable medical condition. A commercial flight isn’t a medical transport, the airline has no obligation to transport someone in that condition, but they tried to accommodate her and just found that she was too bloated and too unstable to safely fly.

    • Bomb

      I want to add that I married an obese man, who used to be an obese boy scout, have an obese father, and mother, and brother, and even a few obese cats.

      I want to be clear that This isn’t about me hating fat people, and the attack of ‘If ÿou disagree with me then you hate fat people and/or take satisfaction in shaming them’ I’ve seen tossed around on this thread is inappropriate and akin to the ‘you hate homebirth because you don’t attend them/didn’t have one’ brand of argument. I expect to see that caliber of argument on MDC, not here. :-/

    • T.

      Morbid obesity is a problem. A grave problem.

      Banning children from doing an activity because of it is not the answer.

      Are they banning disabled children? Are they banning low-BMI children? Are they banning smokers? Are they banning not-bright kid from science fairs?

      I don’t think they are.

      So this is only a way to shame the fat kid. Wanna bet against me that the obese kid in the Boy Scout group will be mocked mercilessy by his teammates because of it?

      Nobody is saying that obesity is not a problem. This is NOT the answer.

      • Bomb

        Why don’t you spend five minutes researching this and figure out all the exclusionary criteria for numerous activities, BSA or not. You take your assumptions, that the low BMI kid with asthma and diabetes will sail into the jamboree while the poor discriminated fat kid is barred, and run with them. However your assumptions are false, and the conclusion that it must be to shame them based on your reasoning is poor logic at best with no evidence to support it.

  • I’m not exactly sure what I think about this policy, but a couple things bother me about your response.

    First, they aren’t kicking obese kids out of Boy Scouts. They are banning MORBIDLY obese children from ONE event, and requiring obese children to have a medical review.

    Second, they don’t seem to be claiming that the goal is to encourage those who can’t participate to lose weight… The goal is to “keep them safe” which I suspect means they are worried about the liability issues of allowing a child of a severely unhealthy weight participate in “physically rigorous” activities. It’s still hurtful, but I don’t think it’s hateful.

    As I understand it, BMI is not a particularly useful metric when it comes to weight in children. Even so, 40 is extremely high. Sincerely asking, age, build, and muscle mass aside, is ANYONE with a BMI of 40 a safe, healthy weight?

    • Lindsay Beyerstein

      What do you mean by a “safe, healthy weight”? A safe healthy weight for Jamboree at age 13 might or might not be a safe healthy weight for life. The only question the Scouts should be worried about is whether kids with BMIs over 40 are significantly more likely to get sick or hurt during Jamboree.

      • “A safe healthy weight for Jamboree at age 13 might or might not be a safe healthy weight for life.” I’m not sure what you mean by this. I’m asking is a BMI of 40, morbidly obese, ever healthy? And yes, you’re right that all BSA should be concerned with is a significantly higher rate of injury (and death)… I’m guessing that’s exactly what they are concerned with… Or more specifically the liability that comes along with it.

        • KarenJj

          Why aren’t they looking at underweight restrictions as well, if it is indeed a health and fitness issue?

          • No idea. Possibly because being underweight doesn’t make you as vulnerable to complications caused by physical rigor? Or possibly because it just doesn’t come up as frequently? Or maybe they’ve actually had incidents with extremely overweight children at the jamboree?

            Besides… Isn’t underweight the counterpart to overweight (BMI between 25 and 29.9)? Underweight is ANY BMI under 18.5… I wonder how common the underweight counterpart to morbid obesity is?

          • KarenJJ

            I don’t know.

            I can’t help wondering how this would have gone down if it was the Girl Guides? I think there be a lot more talk about body image issues. Apparently boys don’t suffer from body image issues?

          • The PR would certainly be uglier. But the real question is whether its a valid concern from either a health or liability stand point.

          • KarenJJ

            Wouldn’t it be better to find out whether it is a valid concern or not by getting them to take a medical, as per the overweight kiddos?

          • Probably. Maybe they decided it was too risky for their organization even with a dr ok? I’m not defending it, I’m just pointing out that the policy is probably a response to fears of injury and litigation… Not some anti-fat hating shame fest.

          • KarenJJ

            You’re too nice Megan! I can see some elements of fat shaming in policies like this one. I can see some of the limitations for public liability in some issues where equipment is designed to Safe Working Loads (eg abseiling equipment etc or even hospital beds and lifts) but once again, these are kids and adult equipment would incorporate higher adult body mass and therefore have a higher SWL rating.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            Right. And you’ve presented no evidence that it is either one.

          • You’ve presented no evidence that this is a decision based on hate. This conversation HAS no evidence, it’s all speculation.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            I don’t have to provide evidence that it is based on hate. YOU have to provide evidenc that it is based on health or liability concerns. Otherwise, it is merely prejudice on the part of the Boy Scouts.

          • If I were from the Boyscouts, defending my policy, I would need to defend it with evidence that liability or injuries were a risk.

            I’m not. I’m speculating that the boyscout’s policy is based on fears of litigation.

            You are speculating that the boyscout’s policy is based on hating fat people.

            I’ve provided as much evidence as you have. Your argument seems to be, “prove I’m wrong, or I’m right.”

            I’ve heard that argument a lot on this blog. Just usually not from you.

          • Amazed

            Why should they? Commenters here act as if they ban overweight children. They ban MORBIDLY obese children. MORBIDLY obese. So, if they are to place underweight restrictions, I am all for banning children with BMI under 3. That’s the math, right? Ban kids with BMI 15 points over the norm and ban kids with 15 points under the norm.

          • Karen in SC

            There is also a minimum weight per height and additional fitness requirements.

            http://www.scouting.org/filestore/HealthSafety/pdf/part_d.pdf

        • Lindsay Beyerstein

          I’m just saying that it’s important to differentiate the potential lifetime health risks of severe obesity from the short-term risks of a teenager going to Jamboree. A BMI of 40 is the cutoff for Grade 3 or “morbid” obesity. Even the experts who say that the health risks of obesity have been wildly overstated agree that Grade 3 obesity increases all-cause mortality. But that doesn’t tell us anything about whether it’s safe for any given teenager with Grade 3 obesity to go to Jamboree. A lot of the health risks of obesity take a long time to catch up with people.

          Realistically, it’s just about impossible for a lean person to have a BMI over 40 based on muscle mass alone. If you calculate the BMIs of well-known professional bodybuilders, who have tons of muscle and virtually no fat, you find that their BMIs top out in the low- to mid-thirties: http://bbcom.me/1922Qei

          If you look at the height/weight wish list for NFL scouts, the highest BMI spec is for offensive guards. They’re looking for guys who are 6’3″ and 300lbs, which works out to a BMI of 37.5. My friend the ex-football journalist assures me that’s not all muscle. When sheer mass counts more than speed, they fatten up players beyond what might be optimal for their long-term health, but these players somehow manage to perform amazing athletic feats without keeling over. http://bit.ly/15LQuDO

          So, a BMI of 40 probably isn’t an optimal weight for anyone, even if they have a lot of muscle to balance out the fat. But the same weight/height ratio can correspond to dramatically different physiques and presumably to different risk profiles. An NFL offensive guard with a BMI of 37.5 is probably in a lot better shape (physically and metabolically) than a sedentary person with the same BMI.

          And then there are the people who are markedly “overfat” by any standard definition who simply don’t have any of the physical limitations or metabolic complications that tend to accompany obesity. Are they at an optimum weight for them? Or are they just lucky to have dodged complications thus far? I don’t think science really knows the answer to that question in general, and certainly not in any particular case.

          • “They’re looking for guys who are 6’3″ and 300lbs, which works out to a BMI of 37.5” I think that’s an interesting point… There are some pretty fat football players who are handling physical stress reasonably well.

            Nevertheless, I suspect this ultimately comes down to a fear, founded or not, that a kid will drop dead at the jamboree and the boyscouts will be held accountable for allowing him to participate.

          • S

            Wasn’t that a big news story awhile ago? High school and college athletes dying of sudden cardiac failure.

          • KarenJj

            If they are high school and college athletes, would they have been obese? I’ve been unfortunate enough to know of two deaths of cardiac arrest in young adults (not teenagers but not much further on) and both were due to undiagnosed underlying cardiac conditions. Neither were obese (and one was a very healthy active young woman), neither were actually doing physical activity at the time. One probably didn’t help himself by smoking.

            I also know someone tested for Marfan’s syndrome, which can cause sudden heart failure, and he is on the underweight category. Anecdata from me anyway…

          • S

            No, i wasn’t clear (and i probably won’t get any clearer; tired). I was responding to Meagan’s comment about possible fear of a kid suddenly dying, and why that fear might have come about. (It’d be interesting to see when they implemented that BMI requirement; from the website it looks like it was years ago.) I wasn’t trying to address, at all, whether obesity would play a role. I don’t remember anything about the athletes who died (except one of them had an uncle named Jesse Jackson).

            In fact if that’s their concern (and it kind of sounds like it might be, from the BSA website — talks about rough terrain and strenuous activities) then BMI is a rather lazy and ineffective way to address it, i think. Require a doctor’s form for _all_ kids and maybe a screening fitness test. Hell, just off the top of my head (by which i mean out of my ass), i’d wonder if it’d be the skinny kids more at risk from undetected heart issues, ’cause wouldn’t morbid obesity bring those things out quicker? Ok i STFU.

          • Amazed

            Screw the doctor’s form. If the doctor who told my aunt she could travel abroad and explore without care if only she didn’t overexert herself had made an appearance last fall when I thought she might have a stroke, I would happily throtled him upon the spot.

            I wonder whether doctors really know what they are clearing their morbidly obese patients for. Physical activity for a morbidly obese kid might sound like one thing for a doctor but for a parent who sees their child as simply overweight it might mean quite another. There were studies showing that people live in denial about their weight and their children’s weight. For Pete’s sake, I know a mother who wonders why some children see her daughter as fat, with the whole arsenal of hurtful words and teasing in place, when to me it’s clear that the girl is on her way to become seriously obese. Mom’s way of helping? Give her a chocolate bar!

            I wonder why there are never posts dedicated to parental delusions regarding their children’s weight but the moment someone does something that can be – dubiously – interpreted as fat hatred, the post is here and all the king’s man come in arms.

            I can totally see why Boy Scouts would want to cover their backs. I simply don’t agree it’s in children’s best interest.

          • S

            My point with the doctor’s form is that _if_ BSA is concerned about sudden death due to overexertion (as Meagan is suggesting they might be), they should be looking to weed out children that are very physically unfit or have other potentially risky conditions, regardless of weight (even though morbid obesity will often likely correlate to lack of fitness). From skimming their website, it looks like they implemented the BMI policy when they moved to a more physically demanding location. It looks like you are saying you think doctors would clear physically unfit children and put them at risk? Why would they do that? Not trying to argue; trying to understand your post and why it’s a response to mine. =)

          • Amazed

            My point is that unless doctors are informed about each specific activity and the conditions it will take place in, they are not really clearing the kids for it. Sometimes, there’s difference in understanding what physical activities mean for a doctor and a patient, just like there is difference between doctor’s perception of an obese child and a parent who sees their child as chubby or normal weight.

            I see such a clearance as the list of foods my mother got from my brother’s doctors. His life depended on his diet and what he shouldn’t eat, so no one risked to let her choose his food based on their recommendations.

            If all is really cleared in advance, I have no problems with clearing anybody. But being on the receiving end of such a clearance with a “take it easy” recommendation, I am skeptical of it when it isn’t specified what it entails. I was taking it easy. I wasn’t tired. My foot was OK. The doctor’s dismay at my return was overboard. She simply didn’t get it.

            Well, two days later I got it.

          • realityycheque

            I know of more than a handful of teenagers and young adults who have died from heart attacks as a direct result of bulimia and compulsive overexercising.

            Another young male wrestler was a healthy bmi and of exceptional fitness died because he worked out with plastic bags around his limbs to help him go down a weight category.

          • CoralDuck

            The point is it’s not all fat- muscle weights more than fat, so if you’re just using the standard table to calculate bmi (as opposed to a test that calculates percent body fat), you can wind up “fat” even though it’s virtually all muscle.

          • Amazed

            Not morbidly obese, though.

  • Guesteleh

    This is for Tara: read “The Fat Trap” by Tara Parker-Pope, published in the NY Times on December 28, 2011. A sample quote:

    While the findings from Proietto and colleagues, published this fall in the New England Journal of Medicine, are not conclusive — the study was small and the findings need to be replicated — the research has nonetheless caused a stir in the weight-loss community, adding to a growing body of evidence that challenges conventional thinking about obesity, weight loss and willpower. For years, the advice to the overweight and obese has been that we simply need to eat less and exercise more. While there is truth to this guidance, it fails to take into account that the human body continues to fight against weight loss long after dieting has stopped. This translates into a sobering reality: once we become fat, most of us, despite our best efforts, will probably stay fat.

    • Amazed

      The author is either blind or a liar. The fact that the best way to lose weight, keep it down and stay healthy is not by strict dieting but eating is something I’ve been hearing since before I became my 195 pounds 14 years ago.

      So, with her speed of learning new things, in about 15 years we can expect her new revelation: the road from fat to obese is waaaay shorter than the road from slim to fat. In my case, it took a few months for the first one and a few years for the second one.

      If this sample is anything to go by, this book isn’t something I’d recommend to a friend with weight problem. Sobering reality, bullshit. I dieted and then I stuffed my face with my great vanilla ice-cream love. Of course I stayed fat!

      There is truth to her writing, though: it’s hard to become as slim as naturally slim people are or maybe we were once ourselves. But you know what? I am pretty happy to be fat. It makes such a nice change from being obese. I love, love, love climbing stairs without panting.

      Oh, and I love my vanilla ice-cream, too. Just not every day. It isn’t a healthy relationship if we consume it too often. Sadly tested.

      • Guesteleh

        The point is that people here are saying the 40+ BMI scouts can lose weight to qualify for Jamboree but most weight loss research demonstrates that it’s extremely difficult for people to lose and keep off substantial amounts of weight, no matter how hard they try.

        • Amazed

          But how substantial should be this amount if the goal is BMI just under 40? 40 pounds? 50 pounds? To reach BMI of 40? What should be the weight they start with? I shudder to imagine that there are so many children with BMI over, say, 45 to provoke creating such policy.

          Were these weight loss researches conducted on children? Because in my experience healthy children lose weight much more easily than adults and keep it down just by being active.

      • T.

        You can lose weight. You will however always have to battle with it if you are genetically inclined to be chubby.
        Methinks that the smartest thing to do is simply philosophically accept it. I will always have moments in which I’ll have to diet hard. And I’ll never be slim. Who care? I am still luckier than most people in the World

        • Amazed

          I don’t believe in genetically inclined to be chubby as much as I believe in family unhealthy eating habits.

          Hey, about 50 years ago people were so less genetically inclined to be chubby. But then, fast food came, all house labour saving appliances came, buses came and hey, same families that were just fit were suddenly inclined to be chubby. Not a coincidence, if I might say so.

          I don’t care about never being slim. I’m healthy and I’ll reach my normal weight as I did before. But I refused to stay obese just because I let myself become obese. I was pressed by my weight and it irks me when I see people, kids especially, who are hurt and trying to find the way to healthier weight and body image just to have Mommy say, “Well, it’s out genetics to be fat. And you’re not fat at all. In fact, you are thin. Care about another piece of cake, my sweet?”

          There are people who care, kids who care. And they deserve better than hearing, “It’s a genetic thing, so don’t think about it. See? There is a study saying that you’ll most likely stay fat.”

    • Antigonos CNM

      This translates into a sobering reality: once we become fat, most of us, despite our best efforts, will probably stay fat.

      Well, that certainly has been my experience. I was always a somewhat “cuddly” child, but nothing extreme. As an adult, over a 20+ year period, my weight increased from 70 to 90 kilos. But for the past 10 years, my weight has been stable, and I’m eating the same way I did before. Obviously, this is the weight my body feels comfortable with even if my knees don’t.

      • Lizzie Dee

        I have a lot of trouble with the idea that the slender are virtuous and the overweight are slobs. It seems to me that diet alone does not explain the mysteries of what happens.

        For most of my life, I was underweight, but not at all careful about what I was eating. In fact, I used to occasionally try a “diet” of Mars Bars, bananas and chips in the forlorn hope that I would acquire some curves. I had not idea how lucky I was! My weight was extremely stable, at less than 110 lbs, but I looked forward to middle-age spread. I had to wait until I was turned 60, then without any noticeable change in diet (I’d given up the Mars Bars as ineffective. Probably eating less) I gained about 40 lbs. Stable at that (now unwelcome) weight.
        My sister, who has always eaten a pretty virtuous diet, has struggled with obesity since her children were born.

        • Amazed

          Well, of course diet alone does not explain the mysteries of what happens. But in most cases, it does play a part. As my grandfather said, ‘Well, in the camp I came from no obese people left’. While his example is quite extreme (he was sent to concentration camp by the Communists and there are horrifying stories about the treatment people got there. The worst thing is, they are all true.), I think his meaning is clear. In most cases, the diet does play a significant role.

          • FormerPhysicist

            Well, sure, you can lose weight if you are literally starving to death. That’s a LOT less healthy than being overweight, even being obese.

          • Amazed

            Exactly. I was just putting a counter example of “It doesn’t depent on diet, it’s in our genetics, we can’t lose weight no matter what!” I never said starving to death should be the answer. Being alive tops being obese any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

            I find it interesting, though, that that’s what you chose to take out from my entire post. I was making a point that if diet COULDN’T change a thing, many campers would have died starving and fat and you took it as a recommendation that one should starve themselves? For real?

            There are people with underlying conditions but it’s my understanding that even with them, diet can make a change. Whether it’s preferable is another matter altogether.

        • KarenJJ

          I was always a bit baffled by the connection between body shape and diet. My parents gave us kids a great diet growing up. Not much processed food, good portion sizes etc. We did get chocolate every day though… But I never really put on weight much. Even later when I went to a diet of iced coffees, m&Ms and weetbix while at uni. Eventually the doctors found an underlying condition, I went on medication and ‘poof’ I put on some weight. Now I need to try and adjust a lifetime of extra calories I was eating just to get through a day and it’s really hard.

      • Amazed

        That was kind of my experience as well. I lost weight and it never felt like a burden to keep it down. I just kept eating the healthy way I did while losing it. The moment I lost it with sweets for a longer period of time, things did not look so good. I returned to healthy eating habits and things got back under control. Then, I broke my foot. Four months of barely walking. Guess what happened? Yep, the weight came back even without sweets’ kind help. I can only imagine what would have happened had I accepted their help.

        I don’t believe in genetical predisposition as much as I believe that once you become fat, it’ll always be harder to maintain a healthy way. And I most certainly disagree that the fact of healthy eating and not dieting is the key is some sort of great news. In my experience, that was what’s been recommended for years. Not the perfect tool. But a better one than dieting.

  • Amy Tuteur, MD

    Let me throw another element into the mix.

    Childhood obesity is more common among Hispanics and Blacks, which means that this edict is likely to have a disproportionate effect on minority children.

    • Guesteleh

      Get out of here. Next you’ll be telling me that poor folks are more likely to be obese and that fat prejudice serves as a handy proxy for class-based bigotry and discrimination.

      • T.

        Poor people are likely to be fatter. So?

  • SkepticalGuest

    Off-topic, but hoping someone can comment on this: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/05/health/05birt.html

    The claim: C-sections lead to a 50% perinatal mortality rate in low risk women.

    • theadequatemother

      study used birth certificate data which is notoriously unreliable. Determination of “low risk” was absence of complications reported on the birth cert. c/s included prelabour (planned) and intrapartum (emergency) and those are two very different beasts. it would be a good paper for students to dissect because it illustrates some of the problems with using administrative data for comparative outcome analysis.

      For example, death due to congenital malformations was higher in the cs group. Hmmm…pretty sure the congenital malformation led to the cs not the cs to the congenital malformation 🙂

      • SkepticalGuest

        Thanks so much. I’m in my first trimester with # 2, sick and exhausted, and seriously contemplating what would be an “elective” c-section after a truly awful first vaginal birth. Saw this and kind of freaked. When I’m feeling better, I’d love to dissect the paper.

        The reporting in the NYT was woefully inadequate on this. They said they corrected for risk level, but if the only info they had was what was on the birth certificate…geesh!

        • theadequatemother

          Congrats on the pregnancy. Maybe read some of Pauline’s book? She and dr Murphy have a good discussion about the strengths and flaws of cs vs vaginal research. It’s nicely educational and will help you look through and evaluate all the stuff that’s out there.

          • SkepticalGuest

            Thank you for the tip. I just ordered it from the library.

    • SkepticalGuest

      Yikes…what an awful typo…I meant to write a “50% INCREASE in perinatal mortality rate.”

      This is what happens when you type in the throes of morning sickness.

  • Tara

    I love this idea, childhood obesity is a serious problem. I think this is a great incentive for boy-scouts and their leaders to create goals and come up with plans for fitness. Having the boy-scouts include nutrition education and active plans to get all their local youth members and leaders eligible is a great incentive on many levels to help these kids out! The reward of accomplishing your goals of better health is to qualify for the adventure, positive reinforcement. Finally someone came up with a creative way to motivate kids into taking action on their health. I think we should look at this as an overall benefit, more please! Obesity has many serious health consequences and its a detriment to our youth that our communities aren’t doing more to find creative ways to encourage everyone to get healthy. The boy-scouts redeemed themselves from negative publicity with this plan. I like it!

    • T.

      This is not going to motivate nobody. This is only going to make them ashamed and angry. It will also encourage other kids to tease and bully them, as there is not enough of this already.

      Obesity is a problem, but this is not the answer.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Oh, it’s going to motivate kids, alright. To quit the fucking boy scouts.

        • T.

          Mind you, as an atheist, I approve of them quitting boy scouts… but this kind of initiative is deleterious for the mental healt of the kids :

        • Tara

          Well if they quit, they quit it obviously didn’t mean that much to them in the first place. It’s a bad attitude to have and teaching kids that when things aren’t instant gratification we give up or appeal to being accommodated is not beneficial to their future. You wont get very far in life if you don’t put the effort towards taking responsibility and making a plan to get what you want. Getting your BMI under 40 is an very achievable goal that directly benefits the kid. If the youth isn’t interested in making that their goal, then they must not be really passionate about attending. This isnt an impossible task and there is no drawback to working towards it. Instead of complaining and whining and saying we have a problem, they came up with a solution. Hopefully more troops next year, on the local level will integrate more activities to assist, support and educate on health.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Well if they quit, they quit it obviously didn’t mean that much to them in the first place.

            Says who?

            Getting your BMI under 40 is an very achievable goal that directly benefits the kid.

            Oh, so they just don’t want it bad enough?

          • Kerlyssa

            Duh. If the patient doesn’t get better, they didn’t actually want it enough. That’s sound medicine, right there. Straight out of The Secret.

            I mean, attitude is the only thing that matters. Certainly losing weight doesn’t require any sort of support or education, as could be achieved by participation in a weekly group that teaches and runs healthy outdoor activities, and exclusion from such a healthy group clearly is what is going to make fat kids skinnier.

            Just like gyms that only allow people under 33 BMI to use their equipment, it’s a real incentive!

          • Tara

            We have a cure for obesity, we know what it is. We don’t have an instant pill, we don’t have an instant surgery. But we have a cure. They aren’t being excluded from the boy scouts, many troops did prepare for this by incorporating activities and fitness goals in their regular meetings. All the good ones will do the same in preparation next time. The kids win. The kids weren’t kicked out of boyscouts. They weren’t eligible to participate in an event. Their eligibility status is not permanent, they can participate next time and they know exactly what they have to do to become eligible. I cant understand the negative reaction. This is quite simply in the kids best interest. Its a life-lesson that will benefit them in the future, if you want something and for whatever reason you couldn’t achieve it the first time you tried. Try again and keep trying and if that doesn’t work, try another time. It’s how successful people roll. If you want to encourage kids to sit there and give-up I just think you are doing them a disservice on so many levels.

          • auntbea

            Tara? Can I ask? How much do you weigh? Have you ever been obese? Have you ever had to struggle to lose more than a love handle or two? Do you, by any chance, come from a family of people who are naturally skinny?

          • Tara

            You are most certainly welcome to ask me what I eat, the activities I participate in. You can certainly ask me about my experience with working with kids and how’s its often adults hindering them because they just assume they cant, they aren’t capable. This isn’t shaming, shaming doesn’t work it should be avoided, But this done correctly isn’t shaming at all, maybe some minor training with individual leaders about the best way to bring health and nutrition elements into their meetings/ planned activities, it doesn’t take that much training to do it positively. It can be done with the whole troop on board and supporting motivating each other, sure you might have to have honest discussions with kids about how they need to cheer for each other, how they need to be compassionate and patient, but those are all great lessons to have as well. You get the opportunity to teach kids the difference between, support, help, encouragement vs. antagonizing, name-calling, bullying. There’s a goal and there are many incentives to meet that goal. The best incentives are better health, short term and long term. The secondary incentive is the ability to participate in an event that the child desires. Being confident in kids and their abilities works wonders. I am so confident that all the kids who want to participate in this event can and are able to get their BMI down. The BMI wasn’t set at an unobtainable level. It is in their best interest to work towards lowering their BMI. It’s for their health. This could be done incorrectly, but the way its set-up its much easier and more likely to do it correctly and positively.

          • MaineJen

            So I think we can assume that’s a “No, I’ve never *ever* had anything that I’ve worked and worked and worked for and just couldn’t achieve, and then had the pain of people telling me that I’m just not trying hard enough.”

          • LibrarianSarah

            Wow that is a summary of the story of my childhood MaineJen. You just have to remove the “never ever ever” part and rework it to be more grammatically correct. Aww I have a major case of the sads now.

          • auntbea

            Don’t be sad! We like you just the way you are!

          • LibrarianSarah

            Yay!

          • Tara

            Thats not an accurate assumption. Its actually an impossible situation. Keep going, don’t give up I’m sure you can achieve your goals. When you say “couldnt ” achieve it implies you stopped because you felt it was impossible. Try starting to say both to people and yourself, “still trying to achieve” ” I’m working towards accomplishment by doing…..( and be specific with yourself and people in your life) Take out those, I cant’s, I couldnt’s, I didn’t and start with I am doing, I can, I will. Then be patient it takes time, but you know you haven’t given up and that should motivate you

            Then you will probably stop dissuading people from setting goals for themselves, start advocating for them, because you know its hard you should be very weary with people encouraging kids to give up or quit or telling them they cant do it. Really claiming that its shaming them and impossible isnt doing them any favors, don’t play the misery loves company game. Keep going you can do it, set-backs are challenges, but be supportive, lift them up.. don’t hold them down by assuming they can’t accomplish it.

          • Kalacirya

            Tara, what you’re advocating for, is in large part, magical thinking. There are plenty of people out there with various goals, and a lifetime of extreme effort will not achieve them, even when they’re very reasonable goals for other people. You come from a very privileged place to think the way you do, and are completely blind to other perspectives.

          • auntbea

            Why can’t I ask you what you weigh? What if you are overweight? How I will know whether I need to incentivize you to lose weight? I mean, don’t you *want* me to incentivize you? Think of the opportunity you are wasting!

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            We have a cure for obesity, we know what it is

            And we know what it isn’t. Throwing someone out of a fitness routine because they are too fat does not make them lose weight.

          • Tara

            Its tough but at the point, you do have to lose weight before you can safely participate in many activities that will help you to continue losing weight. It wreaks havoc on joints, skeletal systems to try and be instant about it. So again yes if you are obese, I recommend researching and looking into whats safe for your body so you don’t.. tear, damage,strain,or blow something all incredibly more damaging and a much more lingering set-back then being told you have to get in better shape before you aren’t high-risk for seriously injuring yourself.

          • RockSci

            “We have a cure for obesity, we know what it is.”

            We really don’t. In studies where people are given support, counselling, healthy eating plans, exercise plans, everything we can think of short of surgery, do you know how many get thin and stay that way? It’s not a majority, and it drops the longer you follow people up. In the TOHP II study 13% of the intensive intervention group lost more than 5% of body weight and maintained that loss at 3 years post-randomisation. These are motivated people given lots of support and resources. And bear in mind that 5% weight loss is going from, say, 200lbs to 180lbs, which makes a big difference to metabolic risk but will not make you thin.

            Weight loss is REALLY hard, your body fights you all the way, and this attitude that all you have to do is portion control and take the stairs and if you really wanted it you’d be thin is not helpful.

            (And I’m not even going to get into the total failure of fat-shaming as a health promotion tactic, of the fact that it’s just a plain horrible way to treat people.)

          • Tara

            and stay that way…. so they can lose weight but keeping it off is hard. I agree its a whole life-style change, you can just diet you have to learn to love good food, you have to want to do it and you have to continue after your weight loss. You dont get to take a pill and be done with it. Still in your hands though, your choice to make if you want it. So you got the resources support and education, now you decide if its worth it or not. It’s all about what you eat and many dieticians and nutritionists are not giving the best advice. I don’t care if its not for you but don’t tell me it cant be done.

          • RockSci

            I think you’re missing the point of this. These studies are the ideal situation for sustained weight loss and the majority of people can’t do it. It seems you think that is because they’re lazy, or greedy, or couldn’t be bothered, but there just isn’t evidence that that’s the case. The research in this field shows that no, for most people it can’t be done by lifestyle changes. We’ve evolved to resist weight loss – for example, your metabolism doesn’t ‘see’ your total fat stores, only changes, so if they start to drop your body responds as if you are starving and holds onto every calorie, makes you feel hungry and lethargic so you won’t use energy running around. There are fewer mechanisms preventing weight gain, so people tend to lose a small amount, plateau, then regain to a higher weight. It is not reasonable to expect people to spend the rest of their life hungry, and it’s not necessary.

            What lifestyle interventions do achieve is improving people’s health – it’s physical activity, a varied diet, and control of cholesterol that improves outcomes, whether a person loses weight or not (it’s very late here so I’m not going to track down references now but may get a chance tomorrow).

            Can I ask what field you’re in to get some context for your views?

          • Kalacirya

            I really laughed at that one, clearly this is a person who hasn’t even begun to poke about the obesity literature. In trials, they’re lucky to get a clinically significant weight loss, which is but a mere fraction of what an obese person would need to lose to get a BMI of 30 or less.

          • Tara

            Yep, if you quit something because you encountered a set-back then you didn’t want enough to overcome your set-back. Another teachable moment, if at first you don’t succeed…. give up, quit and cry about the injustice. Quitting something like getting yourself in shape in order to attend an event you want is a just an awful way to raise kids. Try,try again, the little engine that could. If the ultimate goal is to raise kids who are used to overcoming challenges, encouraging them to quit will get them nowhere. Excusing the attitude will not get them anywhere. Blaming everyone else when you didnt qualify for something will not get you qualified.

          • Cellist

            “Yep, if you quit something because you encountered a set-back then you didn’t want enough to overcome your set-back.”
            Alternatively you are suffering from depression, or anxiety – neither of which are helped by being humiliated.

          • Kalacirya

            Very achievable to Tara isn’t necessarily very achievable. As a single example:

            I have big thighs, always have since I was a child. At a “normal” category weight, my thighs rub together, my hips and thighs are a full size or sometimes two larger than my waist. So when it comes to athletic activity, especially when it’s warm out, it’s compression shorts or I will literally chafe into blistering. (My male partner has the same issue, although he has very skinny legs, his legs are very hairy and if he were to skip the compression shorts the hair tangles and then rips out). This kind of chafing is commonplace among fatter people, at the thighs and maybe elsewhere. I can not imagine how uncomfortable this is for them, I can only imagine it presents a challenge to getting started with physical fitness.

            So for me and many others, those kinds of garments are necessary for exercise, like wearing a cup for a man in a contact sport. And when doing sports, there’s no cheapo compression shorts from Target, those wear out too fast, it’s Nike or Underarmor or Adidas, or bust. Except I fall into normal sizing, I can get whatever I need from a normal store at a reasonable price, often grab it for cheaper on clearance as seasons switch. But if I were in a 1x, 2x+, where would I even be able to purchase them? Maybe online, from a vendor where I can’t even try them on or examine them for quality, and surely at a more expensive price. And forget about sports bras, I see thin women all the time jogging in what are clearly insufficient sports bras. As a larger chested woman (but by no means highly atypical either), I can expect a minimum of 40$ for a sports bra of sufficient quality for high impact activity, and it is a necessity for any serious attempt at fitness through a non-low impact activity. If I was an obese woman with a 40E size, it would be a nightmare finding a sports bra for all but the lowest impact activities.

            So this is but one of many challenges, that I think a thin person wouldn’t even begin to imagine, when considering why obese people have difficulty getting into physical fitness if they were sedentary before. Someone like Tara would minimize this type of thing, it’s all just excuses to her, not trying hard enough.

          • theNormalDistribution

            Tara, you really need to take some time to learn something about obesity and its causes. if you’re at all scientifically minded, I suggest “Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes. It is well documented with citations and provides an interesting overview of the history of our views on obesity and what the actual science says. If that’s too long of a read for you, I think he wrote a shorter laymen/less boring version – “Why We Get Fat And What We Can Do About It” (or something like that.)

            Or, maybe you should ask yourself this: Are kids with disabilities banned from the jamboree? Or do they just restrict their involvement to activities that are safe for them/they are able to do? If it’s the latter, I’d like to know why you think kids who are overweight aren’t deserving of the same treatment.

        • theNormalDistribution

          Hopefully it will motivate parents to stop supporting them, as well.

      • Tara

        I disagree. You have to be honest with people the requirements were known years in advance. Many troops took it is an opportunity for teachable moments and helped their kids accomplish their goals. Getting in shape is not easy, its hard work, and its a struggle. This is a great incentive/ reward plan. All the kids who worked hard to meet the requirements deserve to feel that sense of accomplishment. Those that were excluded can work towards it for next time and it is my sincere hope that they are able to achieve a goal. It’s in their best interest after-all. With determination they will be able to make it, the next one is years a way and they will be much better off for their efforts.

        • T.

          You may think it is a teachable moment. The kid who cried himself to sleep in the barracks among the laughs of his teamates probably doesn’t.

          And please, don’t tell me it doesn’t happen among the boyscouts, because such is human nature. This is not an hallmarck card.

          I am a overweight woman, who used to be obese. It takes YEARS to lose weight, and be sure to stay down. And you never do, not really. You always have to watch out. The kid who lost weight for this campaign is ONLY going to take it back with a surplus later on. So forgive me if I laugh at this ridicolous shaming campaign.

          • Tara

            Yep, congratulations on making the effort. It’s not a shaming campaign. It’s an incentive. The kid that worked hard and didn’t make it can keep on trying. Next time the reward will be all that much sweeter. There were no kids crying themselves to sleep in the barracks because they weren’t allowed to attend. so they weren’t in the tents in the first place. Were they left at home, yes, and now they have a choice whine that its not fair, or talk to their pediatrician and come up with a plan to get themselves eligible for next time. Kids can be a lot more supportive then we give them credit for. If the leaders facilitate positive support the kids will be cheering their friends on. And as on overweight woman who used to be obese, wouldn’t you have like looking back on it, developing healthy habits and an active life style earlier in your youth, kids are more resilient. The longer the problem, the older we get the harder it gets. Lets start early.

          • Kerlyssa

            Let me get this straight. You advocate teaching young kids that fat kids shouldn’t be allowed to participate in healthy outdoor activities… and you think this will set up healthy habits for later on? Bass Ackwards, here.

          • Tara

            Nope, I definitely think they should participate in healthy activities. They are not getting excluded from boyscouts just one event that they knew the eligibility requirements for, and I think the eligibility requirements make sense. I love that the boy-scouts are focusing on fitness. It would be completely different if they weren’t allowed to enroll in boy-scouts because of their BMI. They were not kicked out, and they can continue working with their pediatricians, family, and troop leaders to accomplish the goal of participation in the next national Jamboree. Yes, I do think not being eligible is a setback but its a challenge that has a clear way to be overcome. Like I said two choices, whine and hope adults change the rules for you or get active and work towards your goal. I just cant imagine how some people raise children these days, its always an excuse, its not your responsibility. This is something they can and do have the power to change. I’m much more confident in the abilities and capabilities of our youth which is quite respectful and empowering to them. They Can do it, and I cant wait to read about it, maybe one of them will start a blog. Then we can all cheer them on.

          • T.

            Nice of you, but I don’t need your congratulation. This is the point of losing weight, or stop smoking, or you-have-it: if you do it for something else than a deep belief that you SHOULD do it, then it doesn’t work.

            “The kid that worked hard and didn’t make it can keep on trying. Next time the reward will be all that much sweeter” <- I can't believe people really think like this… No it won't be sweeter. It will be a year (I suppose the time between this Jaboothing is one year?) of shame and ridicules by his teammates. My bet? The kid will leave the boyscout. And be better off for it.

            " There were no kids crying themselves to sleep in the barracks because they weren't allowed to attend. so they weren't in the tents in the first place." <- Not in the Jambething. Elsewhere, in their houses, in their friends houses, in the camp where they had been told that they were too fat to go… you name it.

            "now they have a choice whine that its not fair"<- Because It.Is.Not.Fair.

            "Kids can be a lot more supportive then we give them credit for."<- Not. Or better, sometimes. Rarely. Very rarely. Mostly kids are little monster who are perfectly happy to shame people to death if they can. Again: real life =/= hallmarck card.
            Oh but I HAD somebody doing something like that with me, you see. My parents promised me in my youth a gameboy colour if I got in a normal BMI when I was around 10, 11 years old (perhaps 12… that age anyway). I craved that gameboy colour with every fibre of my being. You know what I did? I went to the pediatrician who gave me a healthy diet and taught me everything I should know about nutrition (I am still very good at it). Then I started puking and vomiting and I got my gameboy colour after losing 15 kg. And then I re-caught 20 KG.
            And this, my dear friend, is what is the Best Case Scenario for this ridicolous campain. Fat or obese people will re-caught. It is a yo-yo, some moment you are fatter and some moment you are slimmer, but such an external reward does.not.work.

          • Kalacirya

            Tara is a quintessential concern troll, I wouldn’t let her get to you.

        • LibrarianSarah

          What about the kids who worked really hard, lost weight but didn’t lose enough to meet the magical BMI number? What about the big athletic football playing boys who are not at any health risk but still have a high bmi because of muscle mass? What about the kids with high bmi because of some other type of medical problem that has nothing to do with “working hard to lose the weight?”

          • Tara

            The BMI of an athlete due to muscle mass would happen more often in adults ( which is still not a common reason for that high of bmi) then kids. Kids just aren’t at developmental stages that supports that type of muscle growth. The example of football players is a silly comparison. I also would be concerned about a kid with that type of muscle mass, its not natural. This is a hypothetical, not likely, appeal to emotion excuse that is just not going to be supported by an actual kid coming forward and demonstrating that he was excluded because he has an unusually high muscle mass because he is in intense athletic training seven days a week for multiple hours a day.

          • LibrarianSarah

            Eagle Scouts are teenagers and many teenagers can develop that kind of muscle mass. Just look at any high school football team.

            When you have a “zero tolerance” policy like this that effects thousands of kids hypothetical such as the ones I mentioned will ceased to be hypothetical. Just like no one thought that a “zero tolerance” drug policy in school would result in a kid getting in trouble for a cough drop until it happened.

          • Tara

            They don’t, teenagers on the football teams its just not the case their BMI is not that high. You mention 1000’s, but I didn’t get a name. I challenge you find one eagle scout who is healthy with BMI above 40 due to muscle mass that doesn’t have doctors concerned.

        • S

          If the goal is a certain BMI, then a good number of kids will meet the requirement easily with zero effort because of the body type they were born with. What does this teach them? Why not instead focus on enjoying physical activity and improving one’s skills, so that everyone can benefit?

          • Tara

            The body type you are born with is one factor. That one you don’t control. But children are neither healthy nor obese due to one factor. Diet and activity level are two other direct factors. Those direct factors you can control, again they aren’t instant and it takes some time. They aren’t originally at fault for diet, ahemmm parents, but if the parents don’t want to encourage healthy eating then the kids are capable of learning the basics on their own. This is basic weight-loss, kids can do it and they are resilient, they just have to be shown or taught how. Stop hindering the efforts to teach them let them tell their parents they want to start practicing nutrition, their pediatrician can help them with the conversation or provide them with further resources. They can decide to play outside instead of video games once the benefits are explained to them. And if their parents are really that uninterested in supporting them with their goals, that’s extremely unfortunate but my guess is they have bigger problems in that case then eagle-scouts.

          • Serenity

            The problem is that high-stakes dieting, to reach a certain number by a certain time, does not lead to sustainable changes in eating habits. Instead it leads to extreme deprivation-based dieting, which leads to binges down the road and regaining the weight later. Ask me how I know. Boy Scouts should just stick with gently encouraging healthy eating habits and greater activity over the long term and not exclude those who don’t reach a certain number.

            If getting rid of obesity was as simple as you are saying, the problem would have been solved long ago. Shame and exclusion-based tactics are not effective.

          • Tara

            Nobody is shaming them they are being excluded because they are high-risk for injury. Again participating in rock-climbing, hiking, whatever else they do is probably not advised by their consulting doctors, for insurance, litigation purposes,risk of injury. Of course everyone has risk of injury but it would be significantly higher for obese people. That’s the way it is, insurance and doctors advice making sure they weren’t negligent. I feel you are shaming the kids by telling taking away their power to take action. It’s a they cant mentality and I think that is much worse for their overall self-esteem because they can.

    • auntbea

      It’s not positive reinforcement. It is punishment. They are not creating a reward that did not previously exist for those who lose weight, they are taking away something that already exists, that the child values and which everyone else, by hard work *or* luck, already gets. Would you otherwise suggest taking away the stuffed animals or favorite books of children who do not lose weight fast enough? Or tell them they can’t go play outside for recess?

      • Tara

        They didn’t get it taken away, they knew what the requirements were years in advance so they knew that if they didn’t take responsibility for their health they would not qualify for the event. It is a reward for those who worked hard, exercised, incorporated healthy eating choices, altered their lifestyle to be more active to make sure they were eligible. As for books and stuffed animals, I dont find this age-group often using them. but sure a new book for eating healthy on a reward chart. If you dont eat healthy then you have to keep trying before you get the new book. Athough that seems more like toddler age group where they dont have many options about what their parents feed them. These kids are older and can learn about healthy eating choices and can talk to their pediatricians about it, and they are capable of following through. If you didnt meet the health requirements this time then you have to keep trying until you do. That’s when you get positive reinforcement, after you accomplish. So yes. Obesity is unique because you can control it, you do have options, and the kids are capable.

        • LukesCook

          Good kids can go and naughty ones can’t, in other words?

          • Tara

            What are you talking about? Nobody has said anything like that. Some people have such a bad attitude and negative outlook. There is nothing good or naughty about anyone in the story. All the kids who want to go can go. Thats where we see it differently apparently, because all the kids that want to go are capable of getting healthy and participating. All the kids who want it can and will be able to accomplish it. And yes some people have to work harder for things that comes naturally for others but that is life. You keep trying, come up with a plan, and make it work. This isn’t an impossible task and they are capable and its in their best interest. There is nothing “naughty” in this whole discussion.

          • LukesCook

            “It was a reward for kids who worked hard”, “took responsibility” etc. As opposed to those who didn’t?

          • Tara

            Yep. We don’t always get what we want. We aren’t entitled to everything in the world. Some things some people can do and some things others cant. It’s absurd. Some things you cant do if you are morbidly obese. Morbid obesity in children is curable. So yep they didnt work for it. Tough. As an aside not a single youth was excluded this year, they neither confirmed nor denied a scout leader being excluded. So it appears everyone who wanted to go was able to accomplish the fitness goal, which was not a high bar to reach. Really 40 BMI is morbidly obese, time to take it seriously.

        • Serenity

          This assumes that high BMI = unhealthy and unfit. But many teen boys are muscular (look at your high school football team) and their numbers look unhealthy when they are not. Many who struggle with their weight are more motivated to exercise than their thin peers. Many overweight people do work at eating healthy and their body isn’t showing the results yet.

          Like I say, have a fitness test. Have a doctor certify them (which they already do). But don’t make it dependent on BMI because it doesn’t measure fitness.

          • Tara

            Well, we disagree on that point. I said show me one kid whos BMI is over 40 due to muscle mass obtained naturally through activities and exercise that was excluded then I will concede your point. Until then its a hypothetical situation that was a complete non-issue in this debate. When one kid or parents or troop leaders come forward and say look at this athlete his BMI is over 40 and he is absolutely healthy. The truth is the kids that were excluded were obese. Im not putting them down, rather I can not wait to see them make changes and work towards being able to attend the next one. That is what its all about, a kid saying hey I want to do that to, that’s worth me coming up with a plan. I will be there next year. Its awesome. I just might be a more positive person, but more power to me and the people I work with because I wont put random limits on their ability to achieve.

          • Amazed

            OK, I first read the post and thought it was ridiculous. The new requirement, I mean. But the more I read the replies here, the more convinced I became that the whole thread is even more absurd.

            Let’s get real here. Just how many kids with BMI over 40 are as physically fit as some posts here imply? And don’t throw athletes at me, please. Just how many athletes with BMI over 40 are there compared to people with this BMI in general? This defence of ‘fat and fit’ is going too far. I do have obese friends who have been cleared by their doctors for physical activities and I understand their desire to take part in those. At the same time, I won’t forget any time soon how when we were on holiday last fall, my obese aunt (who was cleared, too) was in a really bad way after insisting to accompany us at a long route afoot after a day of walking. We were tired but she… she was in a really bad way and gave us quite the fright.

            Before someone can ask: I am overweight. I’ve been strugging with weight issues since puberty, each time I spend a few months eating too much vanilla ice cream and doing too little exercising. I am also one of the many unlucky women who lose weight in their chest area first, unfortunately. To crown it all, I have a hormonal disbalance that, at my worst, made me a model for perfect breasts and waist and at the same time, a model doctors could use to scare young women into what they should not let their hips and thighs become.

            I absolutely think pushing kids overboard to reach a certain BMI in a certain period is not the way. At the same time, gentle encouragement does not seem to work all that well, either. I am as sick from the first as I am from the other. Oh, let’s be gentle! Let’s turn a blind eye that gentleness generally leads to years and years of trying to cultivate healthy habits in kids who stuff their faces in fast food! Ask me how I know. I was one of those kids. Well, it was always sweets for me, never fast foods. Still, it was enough to get me to 195 pounds. Yes, I was cleared for all physical activities. I was absolutely healthy. I was and am very agile. It’s just my body type. And yes, for some of those same activities, I was limited by my weight. It just… weighed on me.

            Please stop pretending that it’s healthy athletic kids who are thrown out. It’s mostly obese kids and that’s a fact.

            The new requirement sucks. Fat shaming is never the answer and the kids need the activity. But insisting that it’s mostly the case of or ‘fat and fit’ isn’t the answer either.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I agree. This isn’t about whether BMI is a good measure of fitness. It’s about whether excluding high BMI from the national jamboree is appropriate. And it isn’t.

            You don’t solve issues of obesity by shunning and excluding those who need help. You provide ways to help them.

            Besides, this isn’t friggin army basic training. It’s the national Boy Scout Jamboree. Since when did it turn into boot camp and only for the fit? I never went to national jamboree, but when my packmates did, all they talked about was the social aspects of their experience, and the silly new songs and skits they learned.

            I always saw the scouts as leadership and service. Merit badges recognized a wide variety of contributions. Everyone has skills that they can bring. Except fat people, apparently.

          • Amazed

            But excluding obese kids is the easy way out. The truth it, they are at more risk and this way, you solve the problem in advance. YOUR problem, of course.

            The only thing I trust BMI for is that in its extremes, it might show problems. At one point, I had BMI of 23. Sounds perfect, right? Well, my waist-hip ratio was flipping 0.5. My doctors weren’t thrilled at all. And no one who saw me thought I was the least bit attractive, let alone fit. I felt fit and I was agile but my disbalance was at its highest. I looked… mismatched. So, the perfect BMI is not something I’d take as a guarantee for health.

          • Tara

            Why, should it be their problem? Why should they have to assume additional liability? Why should they have to deal with complaints that the child wasn’t allowed to participate in an particular activity for safety reasons? Litigation hassle. This events purpose and nature require fitness. It’s a liability issue, its a child safety issue. Ironically enough for all the purported thousands of exclusions of healthy youth with a BMI over 40. Not a single youth was excluded. Read between the lines a scout leader might have been excluded. I had a feeling this was adults whining over nothing. Every “descriptive” adjective can be excluded if there is a valid reason. The reason is they at high-risk for injury participating in this activity. Could feel pressured to exert themselves beyond their capabilities and will end up injured.

          • Amazed

            I am not saying it should be their problem. I am just saying it isn’t a part of any plan to target childhood obesity. While I am not making them the devils here, I am not willing to see them as altruists, either. From their POV, it’s only practical.

            While I do see the higher risk of injury – I’ve never seen a very obese person, even cleared for certain activities who hasn’t struggled, – I do think that excluding fat boys is the worse option for the boys. I am just not willing to accept the ‘fat and fit’ howl. My eyes tell me otherwise each time I go in the street or turn my TV on and see something that has real life participants and not movie or TV stars.

            When I see a healthy fit youth with BMI over 40, it doesn’t even occur to me that there might be something wrong with their BMI. Most youths with too high BMI I see do look like their BMI is too high.

          • Tara

            I can agree with that. I dont’ think anyone was ‘fat and fit,” that was just the easiest appeal to emotion to go with, I said earlier show me one example of that and I would concede the point, but there wont be an actual example. The BMI over 40 was exclusion based of being obese, morbidly obese. I don’t think the boy-scouts are altruists either but I don’t think their reasons are fat shaming. I agree its not practical, most doctors and fitness experts agree. Someone that over-weight is at high risk for serious injury. Even a fitness plan is usually closely monitored at the point to make sure you don’t stress your joints to the point of breaking, literally. They would have to bring in so many additional professionals to supervise those kids to “accommodate” I just don’t see that as a reasonable accommodation for an extracurricular activity put on by a private organization.

          • Amazed

            I can easily see how someone obese can take it as a fat shaming, even if it wasn’t meant like this. Let’s be real here, people are sensitive and tensions are so high that it’s either fat shaming or encouraging obesity, no middle ground here. Not that I am sure what the middle ground is. I can only say that at my heaviest, I was was pressed by my weight enough to avoid participation in certain activities. And I was nowhere near BMI of 40! I still don’t think excluding fat boys is the way but I cannot help but wonder how can anyone let their child with BMI over 40 (excluding athletes, for the sake of some of the commenters here) take part in activities that are already risky. But I believe it should be the parents’ responsibility. The way it’s presented, it’s nothing but discrimination.

            Oh and I am not sure why it’s framed as “fat” issue. Isn’t it a ‘morbidly obese” issue? To me, these definitions are quite different! ‘Fat’, I take as ‘overweight’, something to do with looks. “Morbidly obese’ is another beer altogether. I feel that by referring to it as a ‘fat’ issue we do underestimate the seriousness for the children.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            I’m still waiting for some proof that obese Scouts increase legal liability. No one seems to be able to offer any and no one has been able to show that obese boys are at increased risk of specific health complications at the Jamboree.

            That’s the point, Tara. I realize that you take satisfaction in shaming those lazy, good for nothing children for not trying harder to do what you “know” would work, but you still haven’t shown that there is any OBJECTIVE reason to discriminate against them.

          • Tara

            Exactly agree with all of that. And have no problem with them not being allowed to attend. Its not fat shaming, its a fact you are at high-risk for complications and medical issues participating in rigorous activities if you are morbidly obese. They do not and should not be required to have the type of medical supervision necessary to accommodate that. There is a solution, come back next time in better health. When you say you were overweight but were cleared for activities like rock-climbing, were you classified as morbidly obese? This is ridiculous its a weekend packed with rock-climbing, rafting, hiking… have you guys ever done these activities? The real, risk is so apparent I’m wondering how many of you have actually participated, its dangerous, its hard, this isn’t all about campfires and songs. I have had to meet fitness requirements for tons of activities. If you dont meet the requirements tough,its not safe, you will hurt yourself or someone else, and the organizer will be sued.

    • Serenity

      Boy Scouts already do a great job of teaching fitness and healthy eating habits. My son just finished the Personal Fitness merit badge, which involves making a fitness plan and sticking to it for 90 days. His BMI is still on the upper end of overweight. Boy Scouts do a good job of teaching healthy eating habits as well.

      I have no beef with creating a fitness requirement for activities that, in fact, require fitness. But BMI is not fitness.

      • Tara

        Well we agree, its great overall, good for them. Camping out rock-climbing, hiking do in fact require fitness. Its that simple. I’m proud of your son and I noticed you haven’t used him as an example of not qualifying. So you understand that its an an obtainable requirement. I’m sure you would be concerned for reasons beyond eagle scout camp if his BMI rose to above 40. Appreciative of community activities supporting your child’s health.

        • Serenity

          No, you misunderstand. These activities require fitness, not a particular BMI. Those are not equivalent. I’m sure that if a fitness test were administered, plenty of skinny kids would be excluded and plenty of heavy/muscular/sturdy ones would achieve it, even if BMI would have excluded them.

          Boy Scouts should continue with their fitness education (i.e. Personal Fitness merit badge, etc.) but without high stakes consequences if they achieve a particular number on the scale (the kind of thinking that leads to eating disorders later on).

          • KarenJJ

            I was thinking of an equivalent that I saw near where I lived by a rugby oval.

            Junior Rugby players.

            There were the skinny little kids playing rugby of various nationalities and then there were the Pacific Islander kids. These kids were often big lads; stocky and strong. They were great at rugby. They would have been very fit kids. I’d have no idea what their BMI would have been, but it would not have been in the “normal” weight range.

    • Lindsay Beyerstein

      Why can’t obese kids go to Jamboree? Is it because they’re assumed to be unfit, or because it’s supposedly too dangerous for them to participate even if they’re fit enough? If it’s just about physical fitness, why not let scout leaders and doctors decide whether a kid is ready for Jamboree? Scout leaders have a pretty good idea of the physical fitness of the kids in their troops and doctors can screen for observable risk factors that might make extreme sports especially dangerous, like high blood pressure, poorly controlled diabetes, asthma, or knee problems. The BSA rules say that anyone with a BMI between 32 and 39.9 has to get a case-by-case medical evaluation, but anyone with a BMI over 40 is banned regardless of how fit or healthy they are. There can’t be that many kids with BMIs over 40 who want to go to Jamboree anyway, and those who do are probably among the fittest of their cohort. As a rule, people don’t set themselves up to fail. The unfit obese kids probably don’t have to be told that Jamboree is too much for them. It’s only the fit outliers who are going to want to go. They’re probably quite rare, so I doubt it would put much strain on the organization to evaluate them case-by-case, too.

      • Amy Tuteur, MD

        “The BSA rules say that anyone with a BMI between 32 and 39.9 has to get a case-by-case medical evaluation”

        Unfortunately, that means they get shamed, too, without any evidence that their weight posed an additional risk for attending the Jamboree.

  • HolyWowBatman

    Bad, bad idea, but it does make me consider again, what would it really take to end the national problem that is obesity? I live in the Midwest US, and in my community a staggering 30% of people are obese and 30% are overweight… How as a community do we do better? And it’s certainly not through exclusion.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      The health consequences of obesity have been dramatically overstated.

      • T.

        Could you give us some data, Doctor Amy? I would love to have something to counteract.

      • Tara

        Oh, I completely disagree. If anything they are to often overlooked. Spend some time in the healthcare industry and you will notice a dramatic increase in complications due to obesity. It’s a huge problem and people need to start actively making changes.

        • T.

          Obesity is a problem if you have family history of diabete or heart attack (up to a point for the second one). But being “owerweight” is actually protective on other diseases.

          http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1555137

          Conclusions and Relevance Relative to normal weight, both obesity (all grades) and grades 2 and 3 obesity were associated with significantly higher all-cause mortality. Grade 1 obesity overall was not associated with higher mortality, and overweight was associated with significantly lower all-cause mortality. The use of predefined standard BMI groupings can facilitate between-study comparisons.

          Shaming people however is not going to help.

        • auntbea

          Can I also ask if you are a doctor or an epidemiologist and therefore qualified to say that obesity is a “huge problem”?

          • Kalacirya

            If Tara had any training or other background in these areas, she would have stated them already. She doesn’t. She’s like one of those midwives that talks about all her hospital stories and healthcare exposures, when she really worked in billing and not in the delivery ward.

        • LukesCook

          Did you just tell a medical doctor to spend some time in the healthcare industry?

          • Tara

            Absolutely! Especially if she hasn’t encountered the high rate of complications that obesity brings to healthcare. If she’s a doctor who doesn’t have any concerns about obesity both on its own and as a factor that directly and absolutely compounds other health issues. Then yes, please for spend more time before you tell people its not a concern. I have the hardest time imagining what doctor see’s obesity as a non-issue. I’d highly recommend high-tailing it out of that office and getting a second opinion. Telling people it’s an over-stated concern! I’m stopping that’s not a productive conversation.

          • Kerlyssa

            What exactly are you, Tara?

          • theNormalDistribution

            What you said Amy said and what Amy actually said aren’t the same things, so I have to agree. You’re not contributing to productive conversation at all.

      • S

        Is there a difference between mild to moderate obesity and morbid obesity here? (I know you’ve written about it before, but it was a long time ago.)

    • Kerlyssa

      Perhaps by stopping the fight. Is a certain BMI the goal, or is a healthy populace? Because pursuing one doesn’t necessarily get the other.

      Another case of people obsessing on the wrong damn thing. Sure, get fat enough, 5, 6, 7,8, 9(!) hundred pounds, and you are going to get specific illnesses from said fat. Your body can’t breathe or pump blood properly, sores, insufficient range of motion for self care, etc, but that is extreme, extreme obesity, to the point it really needs another word for it. Before that, it just just one symptom/factor among many.

      It’s to the point where people are actually denied care for being fat. Because, that’s what saying ‘lose 50 pounds and then come back’ means. Or a hundred. Telling someone who is recovering poorly from a joint injury and can’t work, to lose weight before coming back? Immobility and chronic pain are what is going to happen, with their usual consequences. But people can self righteously say they didn’t coddle the fattie, that it’s for their own good. Meanwhile, someone who, say, works construction and has repeated back injuries is not going to get denied treatment until they stop working construction.

      Moralizing bullshit.

    • Dr Kitty

      End subsidies for corn and soya?

      Make processed food more expensive than the raw ingredients?

      Change cultural expectations of portion size?

      Change the design of lived spaces to make walking and cycling more viable options than driving?

      Lots of options that don’t involve shaming and excluding children.

      • Tara

        I like all of those as well… great ideas. I still disagree that this is shaming kids. It could potentially be handled wrong by a troop leader, but I believe with a minor amount of training and education troop leaders could be one part of many positive solutions.

  • Mamatotwo

    A to the FREAKING MEN

  • Anonymous

    The reasoning here is complete bullshit. I have a friend named Chris that’s 6’1″ tall and weighs 375 pounds. He’s a bodybuilder, bouncer, and semi-pro MMA fighter. He’s built like a tank. His BMI is also a staggering 49. He told me that at his last job HR actually had some concerns because he was “morbidly” obese and then he physically walked into the HR offices and they realized that the opposite was true. He’s in better shape than just about anyone I’ve ever seen. What a joke. Another reason my kids will never be in scouts.

    • Dr Kitty

      BMI is also less useful at the other end of the scale, where the short (under 5’4”) are probably “fatter” than their BMI would suggest.

      I tend to trust my eyeballs more than a BMI chart.

      Especially for plump little old ladies with BMIs of 19 who have been referred because of their “worryingly low BMI” and 23 stone 6’4” rugby players who I’m supposed to advise reduce their calorie intake to 1200 kcal (um, no, they’re on 6,000 kcal a day just to maintain during training!)

      If your own doctor, who knows you best says you’re fit for hiking/bike riding and what not, that should be enough.

      • anonymous

        I get the whole “you’re overweight” line a lot from doctors that haven’t met me. I remember meeting my new physician and on the initial phone consult he said “you could stand to lose a few pounds.” I’m 5/11 and weigh about 200. I also run 5 miles per day and do 100 pushups/situps. The scale makes no sense for anyone but middle-of-the-road people.

      • MaineJen

        Yeah, we short people are screwed no matter what. (5’1″, BMI is 26, I could stand to lose a few, I know I know) And isn’t the BMI ‘scale’ different for children anyway? The parameters they list apply to adults, I know. I’m unsure of the age requirements of this Jamboree, but I’ve gotta think the requirements would be different for a 9 year old than for a 16 year old.

    • S

      You don’t necessarily even have to be a bodybuilder. The guys i’m thinking of are solid muscle plus beer belly, guys who are accustomed to long hours of physical labor and a lot of beer afterwards.

  • guest

    Is it a liability issue? they aren’t banning you just because you’re obese…they are banning moribidly obese? Did they actually say it was to encourage weight-loss? that would be horrendous!

    • Anonomous

      No this isn’t a liability issue like she’s saying. This is pure mean spiritedness. Seriously, how would BSA be held liable for anything here?

      • Courtney84

        I’m not so sure they couldn’t be held liable. We live in a very litigious society – if a child who’s morbidly obese is injured durng the jamboree it doesn’t seem unlikely that the BSA would be sued. While I know the BSA has never been a particularly inclusive group… I really hesitate to believe that some thin person is ringing their hands like villian, cackling with glee over excluding the morbidly obese. I’d be more liklely to jump on the “the BSA is a bunch of fatty haters” band wagon if the exclusionary BMI was set to exclude the obese and morbidly obese.

      • Tara

        That’s ridiculous to say its mean- spirited. First of all its in the youths best interest to get in shape. This is a great incentive with a reward for accomplishing a goal at the end. Many troops and their leaders started planning for this way in advance and incorporated,health, fitness and other active events to get their members to qualify. The kids win. There is nothing wrong with a youth group empowering kids to take responsibility for their health. Childhood obesity is a serious problem, and being honest with kids and confident in their abilities to overcome it is an all-around benefit. Especially for the kids, this is something that they can work towards and achieve. It’s hard, it’s challenging, it’s not instant but they are capable. When you tell a kid you know he is capable of doing something they will do it. When you tell them, they are never going to be successful, it isn’t fair, they should give up and quit right now, its the organizers to blame… well that’s how you are teaching them to approach future challenges.

        Second of all there are risks and dangers associated with the pyhsical activities planned. The phrase they “knew or should have known” when it comes to negligence claims are often used. Knowing that obesity increases the risks of activities for both the youth and staff is a definite concern. Plus seriously, why wouldn’t we want to challenge kids to be healthy and then reward them with an accomplishment that wasn’t handed to them. I bet they will feel much more satisfaction from their hard work when they get to attend the next Jymboree that has the same requirements.

  • Gene

    My father is an Eagle Scout. My husband is an Eagle Scout. My brother in law is an Eagle Scout. Spouse and BIL are all so pissed off at the BSA right now that they are debating whether or not to allow their sons to participate in something that they themselves loved as a child. It’s just pathetic.

    • Karen in SC

      I am the mother of an Eagle Scout and I am also appalled. It’s one thing to offer the elite High Adventure programs and require strict physical fitness levels (note that severe underweight is also a reason to be screened out). It’s another thing all together to make the National Jamboree that way.

      The Summit is an enormous property in a beautiful area. It will be a showcase for Scouts forever more and should have been designed for inclusion of all abilities and even limited mobility. That way all Scouts could have an opportunity to attend and participate.

    • moto_librarian

      One of the things that my husband was most looking forward to doing with our sons was scouting. We had hoped that the movement away from the anti-gay policy was the beginning of real change, but now I see that is not the case. He is extremely upset about the national governance of the scouts, and we are probably not going to let our children participate.

  • Pie13

    I’d like to make sure I’m reading this correctly, because I just can’t
    believe my eyes : Is this actually stating that “fat” children will be
    banned because there will be instances in which they might exercise? Is
    it because then they might not be overweight anymore and the Scouts
    would then have to switch to calling redheads and people with moles
    witches or something?

  • The BSA also hates on atheist boys too. They’re a lovely, inclusive organization, so long as you’re a straight Christian cisboy who isn’t overweight … which isn’t super inclusive at all, actually.

  • KarenJJ

    Completely frivolous from me, but I read it as boy scouts ‘hatting’ on gay boys and wondered (briefly) how the heck the anti-hatting movement had diversified that far…

  • Zornorph

    Lord Baden-Powell is turning over in his grave.

  • Serenity

    Do they think this will teach heavy scouts (and leaders!) a lesson–that they will dutifully diet and be the right size next year? Or will this more likely shame them, leading them to eat more and become heavier? Shame doesn’t lead to behavior change. What’s worse is, because this is dealing with young people, this could be their first encounter with the idea that their body isn’t good enough as it is, which can lead to eating disorders.

    My son and husband have football-player type body frames, and they certainly aren’t the only teenage boys who have that body type. My husband, as a young man, extreme-exercised his way to a BMI of 27 (still overweight). He felt sickly and had a lot less energy. His and my son’s BMI setpoint seems to be somewhere in the higher “overweight”/lower “obese” range. If my son had to get a special exception from the doctor for a weight that was pretty darn good for him, that didn’t keep him from his fitness goals, that would cause more harm than good for his body image, and would probably lead to shame and worse eating habits in the future (i.e. the “What the Hell” effect).

    Scouts already does a great job of teaching fitness and healthy eating habits. Let’s keep the focus on those. I have worked really hard to teach my child to focus on eating healthy foods in moderation and exercising, and I don’t appreciate the Boy Scouts sabotaging that.

    • mollyb

      If shaming someone about their weight worked, there wouldn’t be a single obese person in the world. I don’t know a single fat person, myself included, who doesn’t feel shame on a daily basis and yet, here we are.

  • Aussiedoc

    I’ve been medical staff for girl guides on big camps. We take severely physically disabled kids without qualm, (or we did back in the day). Obese kids were bloody welcome because, hey, half the grown ups are obese and the running around is gonna do those kids good, yeah?

    Some kids need exclusions/restrictions due to health issues – but some if the sickest kids were skinny and mental health was our biggest problem and that doesn’t discriminate.

    I wonder if this is just insurance issues run mad. Same reason I can’t deliver anyone with a BMI over 40 in my hospital (although some of that is also the weight limitation in the theatre table…)

    Note to self: unborn son not going in scouts (hey did I tell you guys I was pregnant? : D)

    • Clarissa Darling

      Congrats!

    • EllenL

      Happy news!! Congratulations.

    • congrats!

    • OttawaAlison

      Scouts in other countries are far different than the BSA. I’m a leader for girl guides in Canada and the uniform options could accomodate a teen/woman with up to a 55 inch waist. They’re also making the girls shirts larger.

      • Allie P

        GSA is totally different than BSA. They’re actually super progressive and have come under fire from conservative groups.

        • auntbea

          Is this progressiveness new? Because when I was in girl scouts, we learned how to sew and make pudding, and weren’t allowed to camp.

          I was not a Girl Scout for long.

          • KarenJJ

            Making beds and cups of tea. That’s how it was described to me when I was a kid, but looking at it now there seems to be a lot more emphasis on leadership, community involvement and more outdoor skills. I’m willing to give it a shot with my girl if she’s eager in a year or so.

          • KarenJJ

            (this is the Australian equivalent).

          • OttawaAlison

            Wow, my mom was a girl guide in the UK in the late 50s early 60s and they did loads of camping.

            Camping was always a large part of guiding for me growing up on Canada.

          • Karen in SC

            Really depends on troop leadership. As a GS, I had a leader for several years that loved to camp, so we camped a LOT. It varies widely and there are many other aspects of current GS that are valuable – self esteem, career exploration etc.

          • Aussiedoc

            I loved it karenjj. Camping and knot tying and abseiling awesome stuff. Don’t recall making beds….

          • Certified Hamster Midwife

            We had to make our bunks when we were camping. Which mostly consisted of rolling up our sleeping bags during the day. Also, let me emphasize that we were CAMPING.

          • Amy M

            I was a Brownie, the young girl version of Girl Scouts (in America.). I did that for 2 or 3 years (age 6-9ish) and then lost interest. We did a lot of crafts, had one camp-out a year, learned songs, and earned merit badges for a variety of things. I do remember earning a badge for helping around the house, but it wasn’t specific which chores, and we were supposed to sew or iron the badges/patches on our sashes. Which were a part of our hideous brown and orange uniforms (yay early 80s). And of course, we sold those damn cookies.

          • Certified Hamster Midwife

            …..YOU CAN IRON ON THE PATCHES?!

            Mind blown.

          • AmyM

            I think so? Maybe we pinned them on? I could be mis-remembering, this was 30yrs ago, but they did have iron-on Tshirts then, so iron on patches COULD have existed…..I know I didn’t sew them myself, and we didn’t own a sewing machine….

          • MaineJen

            Those peanut butter cookies own my soul…

          • Certified Hamster Midwife

            A lot of that comes down to the local leaders, but Girl Scouts today are quite progressive.

        • MaineJen

          Unfortunately for my non-religious household, the girl scouts still (I believe) have to pledge to serve “god and my country…” So *that’s* going to make for an awkward conversation when my daughter wants to join the Brownies in a few years…

          • I think it’s an optional part of the pledge. So it’s in there, but there is an alternate version for atheists and people who won’t swear oaths (like Quakers and Jehovah’s Witnesses).

            I’m not sure, though. Girl Scouts was a long, long time ago.

    • Sue

      Big congrats Aussiedoc! Planning a homebirth? 😉

      • KarenJJ

        Lisa Barrett might be available.

        • Aussiedoc

          Totally. I’ve just got to convince the unborn to turn breech. You know for that variation of normal stuff. (Sadly only a singleton).

          • moto_librarian

            Congrats, Aussiedoc!

          • theadequatemother

            nah…just totally plan a breech homebirth/ unassisted/ sheep assisted/ spiritual guide-assisted birth and then wowsa…that sucker turned CEPHALIC just prior to pushing. And you know why? Because you trusted your body, birth, and your midwife/sheepwife/spiritual guide! You rock and your son will definitely latch before he is fully born (to you if you are a contortionist or to the sheepwife if not).

            congrats btw.

    • Cellist

      Congrats!!!! In time for the final baby bonus?!!

  • This is just awful! Thank you for writing about this so passionately! I am incensed to hear about this. This is just a despicable decision for the Boy Scouts to make!

  • gretta

    Is this for real?? I have 3 boys and was thinking scouts could be fun but no way!! That made that decision easy.

    • WordSpinner

      I think there are alternatives to Boy Scouts, but they might be hard to find. The BSA is not a good organization–they still exclude gay adults and all atheists .

      The girl scouts are a lot less controversial. It is just too bad that the BSA isn’t.

      • OttawaAlison

        Depends on which group – some right wing groups find the GSA and WAGGGs way too progressive :/

        • WordSpinner

          Point to you, though that just makes me like the GSA more.

          • OttawaAlison

            I like them too (I’m a leader at the Canadian equivalent).

  • Alenushka

    It sounds so Aryan to me. Boy Scouts just creep me out. Perfect body, perfect mind, perfect gender orientation.

    • Zornorph

      Now I’m hearing the theme song to Tip/Tuck in my head…

  • guest

    The Boy Scouts are sooooo meeeen. 🙁

    • realityycheque

      Way to totally miss the point.

  • Jennifer2

    I understand that this is a physically demanding experience and that they are concerned that the obese kids are either going to struggle with the activities or are going to suffer some health consequences. I just ran my first 5K with a BMI of just shy of 40. It was slow. It was not graceful or beautiful. But I did it and seem to be unscathed (other than a sore hamstring, but I think that was from the second 5K I walked 12 hours later). Honestly, I can’t really imagine that a fat kid, like a really fat, gets-winded-going-to-get-a-snack kid is going to actually want to sign up and go to the Jamboree. Maybe the want to go and participate in the activities, but they don’t want to be one dragging along at the end of the hike or the one who can’t make it to the top of the rock climbing wall. I say this as the kid who was always at the back of line when we went hiking at Girl Scout Camp. I hated it. I loved many things about camp, but being the slow, tired, winded one always struggling to keep up got old pretty fast.

    So require every child to have a physical and have a doctor certify his basic level of health. I remember having to have sports physicals in high school, so I assume they are still a thing. If the child has complications from obesity (sleep apnea, diabetes, cardiovascular problems) or other medical concerns, then maybe don’t allow them to attend or limit the activities they can participate in. But simply being fat is not, in and of itself, a reason not to be allowed to participate in any activity (other than perhaps a contest to see how many people you can fit into a very small space).

    • Elizabeth A

      Jennifer, I have a mental list of people who beat me to the finish every time I run a race and one of them is “someone you think is too fat to run faster then you.” There are a lot of not-skinny, really fit people out there. It’s a reminder to me not to make dumb assumptions. One day I hope I get over needing the reminder.

      • OttawaAlison

        Yup, my 5k time when I was fit was over 30 minutes. While I had great vitals, my legs just don’t have a fast turnover.

    • Dr Kitty

      I was the skiiny, short kid who ran slower than everyone else (and I mean EVERYONE else) all of school. But there was no reason I couldn’t run, and I wasn’t unfit, I was just slow. So I still ran and everyone just waited for me to finish.

      Unless we’re talking forced marches with heavy packs in high heat or humidity, there is no reason to exclude ANYONE. You just let them do it at their own pace and stop to rest if they need to.

      Are they excluding asthmatics and the disabled?

      • theadequatemother

        my husband used to lead outward bound…that was pretty much forced marches with heavy packs in summer heat (not so much humidity). The teens that smoked quit cold turkey and everyone lost about 10-15 pounds over 3-4 weeks. They just went as quickly as the slowest person.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          That’s fine, but since when is the Boy Scouts even about that? When I was in the scouts, we did a lot of community service, and liked to go camping, where we did a range of activities, and some participated in those, and others did other things. There was a 50 mile badge, which was something you could get by hiking or canoeing, but that was optional.

          I never went to the national jamboree, but did plenty of camporees (local versions) and don’t remember doing anything especially strenuous, much less having it required.

          Since when did Boy Scouts turn into a fitness program?

          As someone else has mentioned, the ultimate response of those who are excluded because of this is that they will just quit. So even as a fitness program, it fails…

          • theadequatemother

            oh, I have no idea what the boy scouts are about. I was just using an anecdote to illustrate why I don’t think you need to exclude anyone without a documented health issue from forced marches…that’s all.

      • MichelleJo

        Me too. I was just useless at sport and I was a skinny little kid.

  • CanDoc

    Wow, disturbing. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  • KumquatWriter

    You forgot the discrimination against Atheists.

    • Courtney84

      Why would an Atheist want to join a Christian boys club?

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        How is Boy Scouts a “Christian” boys club?:

        Moreover, does anyone join the Boy Scouts because they think it is one?

        • Courtney84

          Apparently, the boy scouts have become more inclusive in the last decade or two or Christianity was just the prevailing religion of the boys I dated who were scouts (Eagle Scout was my type). Copied from their website under the “Why Scouting” is Faith Traditions:

          “Young people need faith. There is abundant evidence that children benefit from the moral compass provided by religious tradition. We acknowledge that faith can become an important part of a child’s identity. Each of the major faiths breeds hope, optimism, compassion, and a belief in a better tomorrow. Scouting encourages each young person to begin a spiritual journey through the practice of his or her faith tradition. One of the key tenets of Scouting is “duty to God.” While Scouting does not define religious belief for its members, it has been adopted by and works with youth programs of all major faiths.”

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Thanks. Doesn’t answer my questions, of course.

      • LibrarianSarah

        BSA is a Christian club now? This is going to be news to my Jewish eagle scout ex-boyfriend.

        • Courtney84

          Sarah – I modified my original comment. It is a club with “duty to God” as a key tenet, not a Christian club. I had it somewhat wrong.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Even so, does anyone actually join the scouts for the religion?

            Not in the bloody least.

            As soon as you answer why religious boys want to join the scouts, then you will understand why non-religious boys want to join.

          • Courtney84

            So non-religious boys want to join the scouts to go camping, and canoeing, and learn to tie awesome knots? That’s great, but it doesn’t change the fact that the Scouts maintain that ‘duty to God” is a focus they want to have.

            I have never understood why it is that it’s so offensive when a group/club/whatever is not 100% inclusionary. I couldn’t join that International Student Union in college and didn’t want to – I wasn’t an international student. If I was an Atheist I wouldn’t want to associate myself with a group that touts a “duty to God”.

            I get what you are saying about young boys wanting to join because their friends joined, or they wanted to go camping, or felt putting “Eagle Scout” on their med school apps would give them some sort of edge. However, since the BSA is a private organization they aren’t disallowed from having membership criteria.

          • LibrarianSarah

            Actually, you probably could join the International Students Union in college, college clubs are required to sign a wavier stating that they won’t exclude any student based on race, religion, disability, nation of origin, etc. The specifics vary but state but “nationality or nation or origin” is up there with “race” on non-discrimination agreements and if your school got any public funding (hint: it did) it would make student clubs have to sign one of those.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            So non-religious boys want to join the scouts to go camping, and
            canoeing, and learn to tie awesome knots?

            Yes, of course. That’s why anyone wants to join the Boy Scouts.

            You notice what is absent in your features? Religion. No one joins the Boy Scouts for their religious position.

            That’s great, but it doesn’t
            change the fact that the Scouts maintain that ‘duty to God” is a focus
            they want to have.

            But that isn’t the question. You asked, why would an atheist want to join a Christian organization? It’s been explained. Whether the Scouts have the right to require religious belief is irrelevant to the question of why someone wants to join.

            BTW, I have to ask, WHO are the ones that insist on that “duty to God” part? Is it the boys who are in the scouts? Or is it the leadership?

          • Lindsay Beyerstein

            The Boy Scouts doesn’t officially have a religious position. It tells kids they should “serve God” by doing whatever their family and religious leaders tell them to do. Nobody joins the scouts for substantive religious teachings. They assume you already have some. If not, it shouldn’t be a big deal.

          • Susan
          • Lindsay Beyerstein

            In practice, it’s like AA. You can interpret the “higher power” stuff however you like. Officially, the Boy Scouts of America is not in the metaphysics business. According to the official Boy Scout Oath page: “Your family and religious leaders teach you to know and serve God. By following these teachings, you do your duty to God.” If your family tells you that God is a nice idea that reminds us to live up to Boy Scout values, but not a literally real thing, the BSA should support you in your interpretation, just as AA supports you if you want to define your “higher power” as something non-religious like the AA group itself.

          • LibrarianSarah

            Ah still though the answer to the question is simple. It’s because the BSA does a lot of fun activities and all/many of said little boy’s friends are matters. In fact you can take that bit out and it wouldn’t change the scouting experience in the least. Last I heard, atheists also like camping, hiking, smores and interacting with their community in a positive way.

          • Courtney84

            I’m not saying Atheists don’t like those activies. I’m saying it’s not my place, your place, or Bofa’s place to decide what the tenet’s of BSA is. They’re a private group. If their intolerance for homosexuality and Atheism lose them members so be it.

          • LibrarianSarah

            Yeah but they are a private group that get’s to uses public land for either free or a greatly discounted price (I believe that the Boyscout rents the land for the boyscout jamboree from the US government for 1 dollar). Any other organization has to sign a notice of nondiscrimination to get those kind of benefits.

            I am not the only one who made these criticisms. P&T had an excellent episode of Bullshit on this issue and you can read about how tax payers help support the boyscouts here http://www.thehumanist.org/humanist/articles/bsa.html

          • auntbea

            Huh? No one is “deciding” what their tenets are. We are just expressing displeasure and disapproval of the tenets they have chosen for themselves.

          • Courtney84

            Well that I completely agree with! Be displeased that they exclude people. Don’t let your kids join, explain why you don’t want them to belong to that group etc. It just bothers me when I get the impression people think the BSA must include everyone ofr they have to change their ways. They really do not.

          • auntbea

            Was someone suggesting a lawsuit to force them to change their tenets?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I said nothing about their stated tenets. You asked why an atheist would want to join. Since those tenets mean nothing to the overwhelming majority of religious members, why should they matter to an atheist?

            No one joins the scouts because of their religious tenets.

  • Karen in SC

    I am a member of our Troop Committee so I have some familiarity with these new requirements. About four years ago the BMI index was added for High Adventure camping. Note that High Adventure camping is 2 weeks of backpacking at Philmont or kayaking in the Barrier waters. Very high physical demands. Adults must comply. Additionally, a low BMI was also required to have special physician approval.

    I do not see anything wrong with this as Scouts are always able to camp at Philmont or their district camp or a state park camp. Just in a more limited way (for safety reasons). Keep in mind these High Adventure camps are isolated, some more than an hour away from a hospital and many times out of cell phone range.

    I am appalled and ashamed that the National Jamboree was not designed to be inclusive for all Scouts, like most Scout camp experiences. I have no idea why that decision was made. Clearly, the adventure opportunities at this new camp are outstanding and most certainly should have been designed to be enjoyed by multiple levels of ability.

    • EllenL

      Thank you for saying this. Jamboree is a very big deal to Scouts. It’s not the time or place to be exclusionary.

    • Aussiedoc

      With the guides for muster we used to just restrict some kids from some activities – like, sorry you can’t abseil but hey it’s no worries because you can go to the AV tent instead, or on the excursion here, or the adventure games or whatever. There’s always HEAPS to do at musters, I can’t see why jamboree would be different. Poor kids. Certainly doesn’t encourage you to lose weight. I want to eat chocolate just in sympathy!

      • KarenJJ

        Loads of people with some sort of issue keeping up will self moderate. I used to get very sore swollen knees and declined participation in events that could aggravate them (running on hard surfaces – and games like netball were off limits).

    • S

      Why not require either a doctor’s certification (as someone else mentioned) or some basic testing to certify physical fitness? Like the pack test given for wildland firefighter certification, in which you carry a backpack for a certain distance (I don’t remember the specifics so let’s say 50-lb backpack for 3 miles). BMI just doesn’t seem like a useful measure of fitness.

  • stacey

    Just when they are improving their image…
    Their PR must really suck- almost as much as the leadership that makes such decisions.

  • stacey

    Whoah, thats totally insane.

    Oh, they also HATE ATHEISTS.

    So, they suck.

    • KarenJJ

      I was recently looking at activities for my eldest and I was looking at the scouts and guides. Guides look to have modernised a lot since I was a kid and they’ve dropped the religious component. Not sure what to do for my boy because scouts have kept that part, but he’s a few years off.

  • OttawaAlison

    http://www.summitblog.org/map/

    I guess having a bmi of over 40 makes it difficult to do archery, science and robotics, swimming, biking and shooting. So because weight may be an issue for a few activities, let’s throw the baby out with the bathwater ugh!!!

    • realityycheque

      Are they going to exclude physically fit children who mightn’t be very bright? I would imagine that intelligence would impact on their ability to take part in some of the science tasks. Or what about those with poor coordination? That’s archery gone.

      No child is going to excel in every area, they will all have their strengths and weaknesses. Maybe the obese child who doesn’t have a lot for physical endurance is fantastic at knot tying, pitching tents, orienteering or computer science?

      • Karen in SC

        Agreed. Activities for many different levels of ability, and open to all. I am appalled and ashamed.

        • realityycheque

          I wonder if they’re going to exclude children in wheelchairs next? I imagine they would struggle with mountain bike riding and rock climbing.

          Where do they draw the line with their bigoted ableism?

  • SarahSD

    I am curious about your thoughts on the BMI. My sense is that it is more often than not used in a way that is unhelpful at best, and hurtful/discriminatory at worst.

    • Aussiedoc

      BMI is a mixed bag. It has some issues eg people with high muscle mass – weightlifters/footy players will artificially inflate the scale.

      It’s main issue however is not so much the scale it’s the lack of understanding about what the numbers mean.

      For example recently there’s been a lot more study teasing out exercise as an individual risk factor. The result – people who exercise, even with high BMIs are healthier than those with normal BMIs who are sedentary.

      When you go look for metabolic syndrome (risk factors for diabetes, heart disease etc), you find odd patterns where not all people with high BMIs have them (bad cholesterol etc) although do keep in mind many DO – and there are, again, many people walking around out there with ‘good’ BMIs who are heart attacks waiting to happen.

      It does seem that the so called ‘healthy range’ is not as ‘healthy’ as once thought – in that its a ‘U’ shaped curve of risk – the outliers, those with BMIs over 35 and under 18 are most at risk, under that, outside the healthy range 20-25 but inside those numbers people are at increased risk but not as much as once thought.

      I tend to think of high BMI as more of a ‘canary in a coal mine’ that it warrants further thought and investigation. But it shouldn’t be treated on its own. All my patients have heard the rant again and again that I don’t care if they shift a kilo, as long as they eat well and get active.

      But then again keep in mind in the interests of full disclosure I’m a doctor with a BMI pre pregnancy of 34 (used to be 30 – obstetric on call is a bitch).

      • me

        Question: I seem to recall a few years back “they” did studies showing that those people who had BMI’s in the “overweight” category (not “normal” but not “obese”) were least likely to die from any cause. Is this true? If so, it Seems if the “normal” category is more likely to die than the “overweight” category, it may be time to rethink the categories 😉 Of course, I’ve also heard BMI described as ‘phrenology for the ass’….

        • Guesteleh

          If you google “katherine flegal bmi” you’ll find a lot of articles on this topic. Basically, being overweight is correlated with a lowered risk of certain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, while also being correlated with a higher risk of diseases like diabetes. When you sort it all out, on a population level, overweight people have a lower risk of early death than people at a “normal” weight. However, on an individual level, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to lose weight if, for example, you have a strong family history of diabetes. In other words, it’s complicated.

    • RockSci

      (Not a doctor, just a student) It seems to me that it’s often misused and given far more weight as a measure of individual health than it should be. Using it as a blanket marker like the scouts are doing (and like some workplaces/insurers etc do) is ridiculous and discriminatory.

      On the medical front, there are some higher risks associated with high AND low BMI, but I don’t think it’s as black and white as most people seem to think. I only recently learned how important fat distribution is to risk – visceral fat is the real danger, and you can’t tell from someone’s BMI whether their fat is visceral or subcutaneous. Waist size is a better predictor than BMI, and no one really knows why people have different fat distributions. And anyway, it’s really, really hard to change your weight, and a healthy lifestyle is way more important than the number on the scale.(Incidentally, in our lectures on metabolic syndrome it was pointed out that the pretty small amount of weight loss associated with a decrease in metabolic risk is nowhere near the amount that would make a fat person thin in the eyes of society.)

      My understanding is that active, ‘overweight’ people have lower all cause mortality than sedentary ‘normal’ weight people – and our cultural obsession with weight is a big problem for those sedentary people too because their diet, cholesterol, BP etc might be terrible, but hey, why would they get checked out? They’re skinny, how could they possibly be unhealthy?

  • auntbea

    Good thing Russell was a Wilderness Explorer instead of a boyscout or he might not ever have gotten his helping-the-elderly badge!

  • Spiderpigmom

    OMG thank you for raising the subject, and in such a passionate way. I read about this heinous decision earlier today and I just couldn’t believe it. How vile.

  • CitrusMom

    Love this Dr. Amy. Great to see your passion come out on behalf of those poor boys. Also wanted to ask if you might cover the Jenny McCarthy/The View situation. Phil Plait at Slate.com is calling for a boycott.

  • amazonmom

    I read about the Jamboree elsewhere today and wondered why the Boy Scouts would make some insane rule about weight. Why on earth would anyone be excluded as long as their doctor has cleared them for physical activity? I must be letting logic get in the way again…