Health Assessments

Mcfluffy‘s post in the LJ fatshionista community about health assessments, and the resulting comment thread, got me thinking.  She had one very negative assessement from the website of her health insurance company*;  she had a very positive assessment from the “general health assessement” at this site.

I was a bit intrigued.  I started playing around.   I found that often these sorts of things are only looking for certain common problems.

Family history of breast cancer + Lack of breast self-exams = Risk!

Family history of lung cancer + Smoking  = Risk!

Family history of heart problems + High blood pressure = Risk!

This is why most every such assessment starts with

Height:
Weight:

Because “You need to start a weight-loss program” is a very easy thing to say, and of course since fatties are so dumb and are in denial we really really need to hear it.

More subtle things are often missed.  Or, if they are included, you end up with a very detailed questionnaire that few people are going to want to finish.

But, you know, quizzes can be fun.  If you realize that garbage in = garbage out, and take everything with a grain of salt, it can be interesting.  You can also see if changing your weight on a quiz affects the results – because often it doesn’t.

With that said, here’s what a “Real Age” calculator came up with for me:

Biological Age: 42
Virtual Age: 27.9
Average Life Expectany: 75
Your Life Expectancy: 89.1

Yes, I put my weight at the very highest end of the “Obese” marker.  As for the “general health assessment“, I ended up with a “personal wellness score” of  92 out of 100.  The full results includes that

[W]e are able to compute an appraised age, your appraised age is 39, that is great, it is less than your actual age. If you modify your habits you could reach an appraised age of 38, wouldn’t that be great?

Ways to improve

  • You need to start a weight-loss program.
  • Lower your blood pressure.
  • Reduce the amount of fat in your diet.

Yes, I gave my weight at 400lbs, and the BP from my last checkup (132/88).


*Said assessment was optional, not required by the health insurance company or her employer.

25 thoughts on “Health Assessments

  1. I just took the general assessment and it said my age is 21 and I’m really 23 so yay. But WTF it said my blood pressure of 127/78 is “prehypertension”. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a doctor that felt that way. Lame.

  2. You know, I did the Real Age test too and it sent me “ways to lose weight” tips even though my BMI is 23.4. I’m actually tempted to go back and change only the gender and see if it still does the same thing…

    Also agreeing with Tangerina, these things tend to pathologise pretty much everything. I also got told that I really should be consuming more produce even though I eat veggies at every meal and at least 2 pieces of fruit a day. Um, what?

  3. Real Age calculated my life expectancy as 89.9 and I put my weight at the very top of the obese marker.

    I also did the real assesment test and did not lie about my weight, BP, or cholesterol. My wellness score was 96/100. I must be doing pretty darn good despite being a huge fattie.

    I think that if anyone’s BMI is over 20, they’re going to recomment a weight loss program, and if the BP is over 120/80, that the number is too high. My last BP reading was 135/75 which the doctor said was fine, but according to this site, it was prehypertension. It does pathologize a lot and can be very triggering.

    • I think a lot of doctors realize that white coat syndrome happens. Or as the assistant who took my BP at my last annual chirped, “132 over 88, that’s not bad for someone who’s about to have a pap!”

      On the other hand, a couple years ago when I ended up in the ER with chest pains and was having my BP taken automatically every 10 minutes, it went from 140/90 (when I first arrived) to 105/70 (after multiple assurances I was in terrific health and it was probably indigestion and/or stress, but it was a good thing I came in to have it checked out because chest pain could be bad.)

  4. I had to take one from my previous employer last November (in order to receive $300 or so in extra credits towards my medical for this year). I was pleasantly surprised, however, that it gave a quick “you might want to lose some weight” blurb, and then moved on to pages and pages of actually useful information. And it rated my health and associated habits as very good overall, despite my (known and medicated) high blood pressure. It found it a pleasant experience overall, and completely unlike what I expected.

  5. Biological Age: 20
    Virtual Age: .8
    Average Life Expectancy: 74
    Your Life Expectancy: 93.2

    I am not terribly impressed. I think it doesn’t scale down right for younger people.

  6. My wellness score is 99, and it says I should reduce the amount of fat in my diet. It’s not going to happen. It also says I should drink less, which I will try to bear in mind today :-) .

  7. I spent four screens being told that my weight (or what it was two years ago when I last weighed myself) was in the “desirable range.” WTF. Seriously, is this health or aesthetics?!

    Then, it told me that losing weight would contribute to a better score. No, no thank you. I’d prefer more rectal exams.

  8. I decided to take it as my eating disordered self of twenty years ago–it told me everything was perfect except that I should “eat less fat.”

    What is less than zero, people? Does it just say that for everyone, ’cause, OMG, it MUST be true?

    I am glad the internet wasn’t around when I was going through those times. It would have given me so much ammunition to use against myself. (Of course, maybe I would have found FA, instead.)

  9. says I’m 98 out of 100 and that’s with it saying I was at “high risk” for my alcohol consumption and with calling me a bad driver. Not even gonna comment on how I think there’s a WTF on what they consider “high risk”.

    Also, it told me to cut back on meat and cheese when I selected “rarely” for the high fat meat and the next highest up for it. I’m eating below the recommended amount of meat (mostly cause I lack the patience and energy to defrost it and make sure I’m not going to give myself salmonella or ecoli) and I need to eat less meat? ???

  10. Yeah, I’m thinking that Virtual Age thing is just not right. I’m a 29yo morbidly obese smoker and somehow came out with a “Virtual age” of 4 and a half…….WTF? Seriously? Oh, and a life expectancy of like 99.something. I think I broke it!

    • A friend last night compared these to the “what Star Wars character are you?” quizzes and…she’s got a point ;)

      (Seriously it could be you have good habits that are “outweighing” the bad, but also … it’s a quiz. ;)

      • LOL, yeah, I do take good care of myself (other than smoking), but seriously, so much of what it asked for was knocking age down FAR in excess of the actual benefits…the things like meditation, marriage, stress…those all have an impact, but not an impact equal or greater than that of family health history!

        I don’t know, that one really struck me as a “see, you really aren’t doing that badly” feel good thing. Too subjective, too unsubstantiative to be anywhere near accurate. Still fun and good for a laugh though!

  11. Re: real age calculator. I like how the thinnest thing possible on the weight/build scale is “athletic.” Um……… can’t you be skinny without being “athletic”? The extreme of thinness is also the point that makes your virtual age go down the most. The thinner the better! THIN = GOOD. All my non-smoking non-drivingness canceled it out though.

  12. This whole thing is such a crock, really, & of course it is set up to tell everyone to lose weight, eat more vegetables, eat less fat…’this is a recording.’ I took a similar test online five or six years ago & came out with a predicted life expectancy of 95, which could even be fairly accurate, considering that most of my (fat, often drinking & in some cases smoking) relatives have lived into their late 80’s to mid-90’s, but, no, I don’ think that these tests indicate anything meaningful or real.

  13. I did an interesting experiment a while back. Many health professionals are calling for a replacement of BMI with the more accurate waist-to-hip ratio. My WHR measures 0.787 – which, according to obesity researchers referenced above and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, places me well within a healthy range. I then checked it again on multiple sites that offer WHR ratio calculators. On those sites that also featured diet advertisements, they aggrandized my numbers and recommended I lose weight. On those sites that did not list any diet advertisements, my WHR is listed accurately and within the healthy range.

    I also recently did one of those health assessment quizzes offered by my company’s “wellness” program. It asked for, among other things, my height, weight, BP, cholesterol levels, activity levels, etc… All are perfectly normal except that I am not within the “average” weight range for my height. I listed my activity level in the higher end of the active range and yet the results told me that I am not fit and need to exercise more. I went back and changed it to the highest activity level possible and the results still told me that I am not fit and need to exercise more. Conclusion: You can never be fit and fat and if you are fat, you will always need to exercise more.

  14. My personal wellness score was 96. I turn 27 Saturday, and I was calculated to be 25. Of course, I need to start a weight loss program – my weight is my only “risk.” My nutrition was low risk. My mental health is great.

    And a 110/80 blood pressure is considered “prehypertension?” That is the biggest load of BS I have ever heard in my life. The National Institutes of Health (which the site links to) says 120/80 mmHg and 139/89 mmHg is prehypertensive.

    I think that site is a little wacky.

  15. I am not fond of ANY ‘measurements’ of who is healthy or not by body size, shape, or type, since it is even harder to control the TYPE of body & proportion one has than to control one’s weight, which, as we know, is virtually impossible for almost all of us over the long term. I have seen & known people with all different body types & of all sizes who either lived long lives or died young. I personally WAS hourglass-shaped for many years & MORE hourglass-shaped for a few years during the past ten years after I allowed Glenn Gaesser to panic me into fearing that a waist measurement over 35″ was THE DEATH & I increased my already more than adequate exercise to four hours daily for over three & half years before I cut back. Now, having negotiated menopause, approaching 60, & moving more normally, I am becoming more apple-shaped, as it seems many aging women do. I was given a life expectancy of 95 on one of these stupid tests & the majority of the women on my mother’s side of the family have lived to somewhere between 85 & 100, Mother’s brother was 94, & I do not sunbathe, drink, smoke, or use drugs, so I will take my chances, regardless of my WHR.

    I keep waiting for them to start telling men the truth, that being male is the biggest risk factor for premature death, but somehow they never DO seem to tell them all to take female hormones &/or have sex change surgery. And that myth that fat shortens one’s life, which is again being trotted out, has been disproven over & over again. It shortens it so much that a 350-pound woman has a good chance of outliving a six foot, 170-pound man by three or four years.

    Frankly, I think that we will live as long as we live, regardless of what we are told by any tests or ‘experts’ & I expect that all the stress caused problems we cannot avoid & things like this economy are a bigger factor that any body size or shape or eating or exercise habits could ever be.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s