I'm 5 ft too. I really notice it when I put on weight. I've lost a stone and a half now and can really tell the difference in how my clothes fit now. I took photos every half a stone loss and could really see the difference but could only tell by comparing the photos rather than just looking in the mirror.
I've only been a stone over the "healthy" weight so don't know if it'd make more of a difference if I'd gained and lost more.