In June 1998, some 25 million Americans went from being a normal, healthy weight to being overweight overnight. Neither Haagen-Dazs nor Ben & Jerry's was implicated in the change.
Instead, it came about because of new, stricter recommendations from the federal government to lower the cutoff weights used by doctors to define overweight and obese.
According to the new guidelines, those with a height-to-weight ratio or a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 30 are considered overweight, while those with a BMI of 30 and above are considered obese. Previously, a person was not considered overweight unless he had a BMI of at least 27.
The Harvard researchers used a BMI of 19 as a healthy indicator. However, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has proposed that the use of a body mass index (BMI) of less than 18.5 be used as a criterion for assessing the incidence of starvation or chronic energy deficiency on a worldwide basis. In other words, a body mass index hovering around 10 is close to levels considered indicative of starvation, deficiencies of the immune system, illness or death (Nutrition Today, 1996; 31: 38).