by Blake Linton Wilfong -- The Wondersmith!

The average Body Mass Index (BMI) for all Playboy Playmates for whom weight statistics were given in their Playmate Data Sheets up to December 2000 is 18.0. The mode (most common BMI) is also 18.0. The median (the BMI that half of the Playmates are above, and half are below) is again 18.0. It is clear that 18.0 represents the BMI of the "typical" Playboy Playmate.

Although 18.0 is slightly below the BMI range of 18.5 to 25 espoused by the conservative National Institutes of Health, numerous scientific studies demonstrate that this is a superb BMI for nonsmokers with active, healthy lifestyles who eat nutritious, balanced diets. Women (and men) who satisfy this description will, on average, live longer and enjoy more energetic and productive lives than those who do not. It is also reasonable to expect them to pass on these traits to their offspring, either genetically or through upbringing. Surely such individuals should be regarded as highly desirable mates, and Playboy Magazine has spent decades promoting them as such.

Playboy Playmates should also inspire us, men and women alike, to reach ideal BMIs ourselves. We can achieve this by eating less, while making sure that what little food we do eat contains all the nutrition our bodies need--the practice known as Calorie Restriction with Adequate Nutrition (CRAN). The key to CRAN is to change our thinking about hunger: we must realize that hunger is a natural state of a well honed and healthy body, not an unbearable discomfort to be instantly appeased. Infomercials claim we can lose weight without hunger or exercise, but the truth is that permanently maintaining a low BMI cannot be accomplished over the short term with pills or quick, temporary diets, but through long-term changes in lifestyle.

As of this writing, I am proud to report that over the last several years, I have gradually reduced my own weight from 265 to 175 pounds. At my height of 6'4", this corresponds to a drop in BMI from a highly dangerous 32.3 to a much safer 21.3. This brings me (barely) into Playboy Playmate range! It can be done! Thanks in part to the fine example of centerfold models, I am maintaining an ideal weight, and I feel better and look better as a result.

How did I accomplish this? I have trained myself to eat less than before--perhaps half as much--and to welcome hunger as a sign of success. And I make sure that a much greater portion of what I do eat is nutritious, not "empty calories". I also have made it a habit never to watch TV while sitting on the couch, but only while jogging on a mini-trampoline. I thus average more than an hour of strenuous exercise a day. I practice what I preach.

Besides health and appearance, I have discovered other advantages to eating less. My restaurant and grocery bills are lower, so I have more money to spend on things that make life enjoyable. Also, my meals are quicker both to prepare and to eat--leaving me more time to do things that are important or fun. Not only is my life extended, but the quality of my life is improved.

In this age of political correctness and fat acceptance groups, I will no doubt be bombarded with e-mails chastising me for building a website singing the praises of Playboy Magazine as promoter of the slender ideal. These e-mails will point out that obesity's opposite extreme is equally dangerous, that 8 million Americans suffer from eating disorders, and that anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder. To this I answer that far more Americans--more than half the population--are overweight or obese, and that the number of Americans who die prematurely each year from being too fat is orders of magnitude greater than the number who die from being too thin. Overweight and obesity are by far the greater problem. Until that changes, I thank Playboy Magazine and the beautiful women who grace its pages for promoting truth, health, science, and beauty above political correctness.

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