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How much emphasis on BMI?

179 replies

nbvkfnh · 08/10/2018 12:12

I am currently losing weight through healthy eating and exercise (admittedly I am not able to exercise that hard yet due to my size but I am hoping to increase this as I lose more weight.

So far I have lost just over 2st since July. I have gone from squeezing into a size 20 to a comfortable size 18.

At my lightest in recent years (when I was a size 12-14) I weighed 13st 9. I was thinking originally I'd like to get back to that weight (I am currently 16st). However having looked at BMI, I see that even at 13.9 I would still be in the obese category, not even overweight. And that to be 'normal' I'd have to lose another 2.5 stone.

Now I'm not saying that I was super skinny at 13.9, not at all, I didn't have abs and a flat stomach but I certainly didnt feel obese, and if I had lost another 2.5st I feel that would have left me very slim indeed, not at the uppermost end of 'normal'.

So should my goal be to get to normal BMI?

OP posts:

ShirleyPhallus · 09/10/2018 07:20

I don’t know why people bring up athletes and bodybuilders and muscle weighing more than fat in threads where it so obviously doesn’t apply. If OP was in the obese category because she’s an elite athlete or bodybuilder, she wouldn’t be posting this.

Exactly this. Often many posters on threads like this are looking for a “BMI is false just ignore it” (and continue being overweight)


Hoardernomore · 09/10/2018 07:22

I’m 5ft 6 and a Little under 8stone. Think my
BMI works out at around 18?

I’m STILL a size 8. If that’s a size 12 from years ago how thin would I have had to be to wear it?! Cos honestly I don’t think I could lose another stone.
I am not toned though and I still look overweight so maybe if I was more toned I’d fit a smaller size.

I just wondered with everyone going on about vanity sizing. Think my bmi would have to be about 16 to get into a size 4 - if people are saying that size 4 is now what size 8 used to be.
So basically I’m a size 12 even though my bmi is bordering underweight?


Gwenhwyfar · 09/10/2018 07:25

"By definition, normal is the usual or expected state so if 80% can be described that way it is normal. I'm not defending being overweight but to argue its not normal is silly!"

There's more than one definition of normal though. It's not necessarily the same as 'average' or 'usual'.

It's something Mumsnetters don't want to hear, but the problem here is vanity sizing. OP thinks size 12-14 is healthy. You have to bear in mind that a size 12 today is a couple of sizes larger than a size 12 twenty years ago.

BMI might be imperfect, but there's a lot of denial going on as well.


Gwenhwyfar · 09/10/2018 07:30

"Do people wear very stretchy clothes or what?

People are just different shapes. "

Or they shop in different places. Youth shops tend to have smaller sizes and places like Next and Hobbs have massive sizes. It's another part of vanity sizing that makes some silly people think they've stayed the same size all through their lives.


MemoryOfSleep · 09/10/2018 07:41

I'd ask a doctor what they think of your personal circumstances. Some people have a reason that bmi does not apply for them, such as excessive muscle mass, and if this is true for you, your GP will tell you. I think for health advice you'd be better off going to a professional rather than mumsnet. Good luck with your continuing weight loss journey and well done so far.


twattymctwatterson · 09/10/2018 07:56

Op you've already done really well and you should get yourself to whatever size you feel comfortable with but I think you need to be more realistic about what constitutes a healthy weight. BMI really is a good indicator which is why the NHS still uses it. Yes you may know rugby players and body builders it doesn't work for but you're not an athlete, if it says at 14 stone you are still obese then you are still obese. As a pp has already suggested, a good way to check this would be to get your body fat measured?


Gwenhwyfar · 09/10/2018 08:16

"VO2 Max and body fat percentage are viewed as the most accurate predictor of future health outcomes but are difficult to measure without expensive equipment and testing techniques."

The new scales in Boots measures body fat. Even a scale I used at the gym over 10 years ago did. Not sure how accurate it is but obviously not that difficult. I actually thought body fat percentage was more an indication of fitness though.


redsummershoes · 09/10/2018 08:24

I'm bang in the middle of a healthy bmi (22)
I just about pass the string test (waist circumference less than half body height).
clothes sizes vary from 10-14...
by no means am I skinny.


Harleyisme · 09/10/2018 08:31

I don't think bmi is accurate for everyone. I was huge 7 years ago then lost 10st in a year i worked with my gp and a dietican and both actually saod because build if i was to lose enough to be in the healthy catorgrie that i would actually be very poorly as that would be to thin for my build.


nbvkfnh · 09/10/2018 08:32

My waist circumference was less than half my height when I was 14st and classed as obese though Smile

When I reach a point where my loss plateaus if (likely)I'm still above BMI normal I'lllook into body fat measuring and speak to my GP.

OP posts:

Fozzleyplum · 09/10/2018 08:35

These threads crop up regularly, with some determined posters saying that BMI is irrelevant "because I'm 5'6", 14 stone and a size 14 so I'm definitely not overweight" type comments.

Clothes sizes are completely unreliable, with some people kidding themselves by cramming into too-small, vanity sized stretchy clothes.

Whenever I suggest posters should just post their bust, waist and hip measurements, rather than the number on their clothing label, it's inevitably met with silence.


Pinkblanket · 09/10/2018 08:49

You just said your waist was 34 inches though, that over half of 5'6" ( half of 5'6" is 33). So by both BMI and that measurement you are still heavier than is ideal.


nbvkfnh · 09/10/2018 08:59

pinkblanket my waist now is 34. But I'm 16st and know I need to lose weight!

I said upthread that at 14st my waist was 31. So for me that alone may not be a good indicator.

OP posts:

hopsalong · 09/10/2018 09:11

Well, you've done brilliantly to lose two stone. I would focus on that and keep on going as you are without being too focussed on the endpoint. Ideally, then yes, you would get within the normal range. But if you don't, and can't, try to be happy with wherever you DO get and exercise as much as possible.

The way we feel at different weights is obviously very subjective -- if I suddenly weighed 11 stone I wouldn't feel very slim I would feel huge. But after I gave birth (weighed about 12 stone by end of pregnancy) 11 stone did feel slim. It can be hard to be objective about these things, especially in a society where most people are overweight. But there are really good medical reasons for thinking that you would reduce your risk of many illness (diabetes, heart disease) significantly if you got into the 'normal' weight range. I think 'normal' needs to be understood more as ideal than 'most common' at this point. I am currently slightly underweight and when I look at myself I don't think I look thin, certainly not bony. But am trying to raise weight to a BMI of 19/20 because I don't trust my subjective sense of this.


Mistigri · 09/10/2018 09:35

"But I'm 16st and know I need to lose weight!"

Quite honestly you have a more sensible approach to weight and weight loss than many people posting on here.

Every pound you lose will benefit your long term health (as long as you do it slowly and your diet is not extreme). As you approach the "normal" BMI range, the health gains for each pound lost will become smaller and smaller.

BMI is a "population" measure ie if you look at large numbers of individuals a BMI of 20-25 is typically the healthiest range. But for a single individual the health differences between a BMI of 27/28 and 24/25 may not be significant, especially if excessive focus on weight loss causes an increased risk of disordered eating.


PlinkPlink · 09/10/2018 10:43


If youre interested in the waist line thing in relatiom to BMI, here's a link to a BBC article that came up recently. I found it really interesting.

You fill in your stats as per BMI calculator but add in your waist measurement too. I found it quite an interesting read.


noeffingidea · 09/10/2018 10:58

OP it sounds as if you are one of those lucky women that has a naturally defined waist that is proportionately small, however that does not mean that you can ignore BMI, because waist/height ratio is still just one indicator, and doesn't mean there is no unhealthy fat in that area . Perhaps you will have a tiny waist once you reach a healthy weight.


hannnnnnnxo · 09/10/2018 11:02

Sorry but unless you’re 6ft+ or a bodybuilder, a size 12 is not slim - let alone a size 14/14 stone. That’s average, medicore, the middle-top end of clothing sizes, it’s not ‘normal’ in regards to being slim. It can of course be your normal and a weight/size you’re happy with - but there’s no need to mislabel it as ‘slim’. In my opinion slim would be a 6-8, or a 10 if you’re tall.

You might feel ‘slim’ at a 12-14 but you probably aren’t as healthy as you imagine you are. There are so many other ways of measuring your body that advanced scales check, such as visceral fat rating, body fat%, the composition of your individual body parts etc. I assure you that a size 14 won’t be in a desirable body fat % range with a low visceral fat rating, so you’re deluding yourself otherwise. It’s worth weighing yourself at the advanced scales at Boots, or see if your GP has a set of these scales as it may open your eyes vs just weighing yourself/BMI


BananaBonanza · 09/10/2018 11:03

BMI is shit.

When I was looking into it I found studies that suggested the outcomes those just into the overweight category were far better that the lower end if the healthy weight category. Because the overweight category is so wide and outcomes so varied this effect was masked.

Listen to your body. Weight to bright ratios and body fat are far more useful than BMI.


TheStoic · 09/10/2018 11:03

The numbers to focus on when it comes to health and weight are things like cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar levels.

Test them all now, and continue to test them as you lose more weight.

What’s the point of reaching an arbitrary goal weight if your health markers are still concerning?

Conversely, what’s the point of struggling to lose more weight if your health markers are fine?


BananaBonanza · 09/10/2018 11:10


Healthy weight is really very subjective

I certainly wasn't a body builder when I was measuring at the very low end of healthy body fat and healthy height to waist ratio. And I was a very definitely a slim size 12. I'd have been a scrawny and unhealthy as a size 10

(I was still overweight according to BMI.ShockHmm )


ShirleyPhallus · 09/10/2018 11:15


Completely agree with everything you’ve said.

I imagine a size 14 feels very slim when you’ve been a 20 but compared to a size 8 it would feel very large. Hence “feeling” not being enough of a marker for healthy weight.


ragingmentalist · 09/10/2018 11:25

As others have said, we have a screwed perception of what is healthy & normal now. When half the population is considered obese (that's one step past overweight) & webthink that's all ok, then something is going wrong.

Yes clothes sizes have changed, generally to make fat people to feel better about themselves. When an obese woman or man is squeezing themselves into a size 14 pair of jeans of equivalent, all it's doing is reaffirming 'normal' being obese.

The same old BMI bashing comparing fat people to elite sports athletes, do people not realise how ridiculous that looks? Use it as a snapshot, if you're in the obese category & arnt a professional sports person, and and are of average height, then there is an extremely high possibly you are, well, fat!

Stop making excise and start doing something about it, were slowly turning into Wall-E. A nation of fat, unhealthy blimps.


Thursdaydreaming · 09/10/2018 11:44

Agree with PPs that saying BMI means nothing because "it says body builders/Brad pitt/whoever is obese" is ridiculous. Are you a body builder? If you were, you would know about it and wouldn't be using BMI to measure yourself. You can't accidentally be one, especially as a women. It seems to be a common misconception that the slightest amount of exercise will make you so muscular it will throw off all methods of weight calculation. Such as the pp in this thread that said they are very muscular as they walk a lot Confused

However I agree with you OP that if you have always been overweight, it's shocking the first time you calculate your weight range according to BMI. I was shocked when I lost 20kg and reached my long held goal weight, felt so thin (by comparison to myself), but found my Bmi was still 25. To get to 20 I would need to loose another 15kg. Shock


eurochick · 09/10/2018 12:02

BMI is a good general guide to what is a healthy weight. We have lost sight of what is healthy as so many people are now overweight.

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