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After being beat up by a body mass index calculator yesterday, I have found an ally in my new found health problem. While life insurance underwriters still take a stance that obesity and some of it’s ugly cousins, diabetes and heart disease, are not going to get you the best rates, a fat advocate popped out nowhere.

A science article in the New York Times claimed the fat high ground today and brought to light the fact that fat is an essential part of our body, not unlike the liver. Why then, if fat is so vital to our body, would “doctors vacuum out something like two million pounds of fat from the thighs, bellies, buttocks, jowls and man-breasts of 325,000 people a year”? Vanity? An attempt at de-evolution?

According to Bruce M. Spiegelman of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, “if you had no fat cells, no adipose tissue, you’d still be out of energy balance, and you’d put the excess energy somewhere else, he said, at which point really bad things can happen. Consider the lipodystrophy diseases, rare metabolic disorders in which the body lacks fat tissue and instead dumps its energy overruns in that jack-of-all-organs, the liver, causing extreme liver swelling, liver failure and sometimes liver-bearer death.”

So, what Mr Spiegelman is suggesting is that fat is protecting our body from food produced energy going to the wrong places. Well, I’m all for that. But, isn’t he also saying that if we don’t cram quite so much energy into our bodies, our body would need less fat?

I was hanging in there, trying to seriously consider all of this, and then Natilie Angier, the author of the article dropped one that left me reeling. Let me preface her comment by saying that I sold all of my stock in evolutionary biologists a long time ago. She said “Indeed, evolutionary biologists have proposed that our relative plumpness compared with our closest nonhuman kin, the chimpanzee, may help explain our relative braininess. Even a lean male athlete with a body fat content of 8 percent to 10 percent of total body mass (half the fat found on the average nonobese, non-Olympic American man) is still a few percentage points more marbled than a wild male chimpanzee, and scientists have suggested that our distinctive adipose stores help ensure that our big brains will be fed even when our cupboards go bare.”

Bottom line. I am only smarter than a chimpanzee because of my body mass index. On a more serious note, as I mentioned yesterday, life insurance companies use build charts that are much kinder than the BMI calculator that I used. Weight is a factor in life insurance rates, but not all companies look at it the same. A good independent agent can steer you in the direction of the best possible rates for your particular build.

This post is somewhat dated. Life insurance underwriting is changing and evolving continually. For more updated information check out some of the key word links. If you have a specific question or topic you need information for do a search. If you don’t find the answers you need contact me and we’ll make sure you get the information that is important to you.