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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:

JeanPagett · 10/10/2018 09:05

I find it very odd that so many people are determined to use dress sizes, which are almost completely meaningless and vary from brand to brand, as a guide and completely dismiss BMI, which is a scientific guide.

Of course vanity sizing makes us feel better but realistically I think a lot of us have completely lost sight of what a healthy weight looks like.


TheDowagerCuntess · 10/10/2018 09:08

BMI is as good as it gets at present, and works just fine for the majority of the population.

To the PP is suggested that several miles of walking a day results in muscles so pronounced they add to their BMI, I respectfully disagree.

Unless you're, I dunno, an All Black, I really don't think you have to worry about muscle mass screwing you over, BMI-wise.


auberbene · 10/10/2018 12:22

I'm just under 8st and 5'2.

Pre baby, this made me a size 8. Post-baby I'm a 10.

I'd just stick to being in the 'healthy' range As PPs have mentioned, sizing varies throughout brands anyway.


BananaBonanza · 11/10/2018 07:58

Just Google problems with BMI here

Eg here

It not about denying the need for weight loss ever. It's about using better measures to assess the need for weight loss


TheDowagerCuntess · 11/10/2018 08:02

BMI is a blunt tool @BananaBonanza - but it's good enough for the vast majority of the population.

We all know its limits, and those limits don't apply to most people.


BananaBonanza · 11/10/2018 08:41

Why use a measure that is poor when there are measures that are better?


TheOrigFV45 · 11/10/2018 08:57

Banana because it is very, very quick and easy. As pp have said, for the vast majority of people it is an accurate enough tool, and the All Blacks and elite endurance runners know their unusual bodies won't fit.

I imagine using more accurate measures are both more expensive and time consuming and for most people the outcome would be the same ie they are a healthy weight, or not.

Why do I drive my old Peugeot when a Ferrari would be better?


BananaBonanza · 11/10/2018 10:07

If your old Peugeot didn't work in the first place and you had a working Ferrari why would you still drive your old Peugeot?

Body to waist ratio really isn't that complex. Body fat just requires you to step onto a body fat scales. Why we still use such a problematic measure is beyond me


TheDowagerCuntess · 11/10/2018 10:19

It's not a problematic measure for most people, and hardly anyone has a body fat scale to step onto.


BananaBonanza · 11/10/2018 10:21

Just to clarify how poor BMI is I quote

Researchers found that 54 million Americans had been classed as overweight or obese, but cardiometabolic measures showed they were healthy. Another 21 million were classed as "normal" in terms of BMI, but they were unhealthy.


JeanPagett · 11/10/2018 10:27

54 million out of how many though? That statistic in isolation doesn't tell you much.

Of course there are numerous other factors that play into cardiovascular health (genetics for a start), but BMI provides an easy and accessible rule of thumb so far as weight is concerned.


TheDowagerCuntess · 11/10/2018 10:30

And I reiterate, BMI works just fine as a blunt tool / guideline that works easily for the majority of the population.

Offer something else up instead, if anyone knows better.


noeffingidea · 11/10/2018 10:48

Scales that show body fat % aren't particularly accurate anyway, and even measuring using calipers isn't perfect.


serbska · 11/10/2018 10:52

I find it very odd that so many people are determined to use dress sizes, which are almost completely meaningless and vary from brand to brand, as a guide and completely dismiss BMI, which is a scientific guide.

Quite. Also, as if 13.9 is a 'size 12' in all but the most ridiculously stretchy vanity sizing anyway!

For most people, BMI is a pretty good reflection of if oyu are fat or not. But lots of people just don't want to hear it.

We are skewed to think that 'normal BMI' is skinny and fat is normal.


TheDowagerCuntess · 11/10/2018 11:06

We are skewed to think that 'normal BMI' is skinny and fat is normal.

Absolutely. You hear people say, 'I'd be skeletal at a normal BMI / size 8'.

I highly doubt it.

Because people in the public eye at that size don't look skeletal at all - they just look normal.


Santaclarita · 11/10/2018 11:40

Bmi is a good indicator for the average person if you're unhealthy basically. It's useless on most athletes.

Unless your body is mainly muscle, and be honest with yourself on that, then it's probably fairly accurate. You don't have to be at the bottom end of normal weight though, I'd aim for the middle of it.

People say I look fine and am not overweight, but I am. I'm 5'8 and weigh 14st. It's too much fat on me, especially around my middle and legs. Because I'm tall though, it spreads out a bit better so I don't look that bad. Doesn't mean I'm fine though.


Singinghollybob · 11/10/2018 12:17

My experience of BMI is opposite to most of the posts here. I'm at the lower end of healthy at 8 stone 3lbs, however if my weight was at the upper end e.g. 10 stone 11lbs, then I'd look definitely obese.


nbvkfnh · 11/10/2018 12:28

Serbska, did you mean to be so rude?

Fyi I have a very defined figure, even at my current weight. So yes despite what you might think I was a size 12 from various clothing retailers (and not just in ridiculously stretchy clothes as you assert). Try not to state things as fact when you don't actually know them, you make yourself look stupid.

As to other posts, maybe I can be slimmer than a size 12. I will find that out when I get there. I might decide I actually don't need or want to be lighter than that, and I will make that decision based on how I look and feel at that point and discussion with my GP about my health and fitness.

Not based on whether someone on MN thinks anyone who weighs more than 10st is grossly overweight.

OP posts:

JeanPagett · 11/10/2018 13:00

OP, absolutely no one has said or implied that anyone who weighs over 10 stone is grossly overweight Confused

For some people, depending on their height, being 10 stone 11lbs as Singing mentioned could indeed be well into the overweight range according to standard BMI charts. I can't see what's offensive about that.


THEsonofaBITCH · 11/10/2018 13:07

HI OP, again, CONGRATULATIONS on your accomplishment!!!
BMI is a guide only and you are in charge and you can and will keep going to your comfort level. Keep up the good work, keep getting health and don't let the MNutters get you down!


TheOrigFV45 · 11/10/2018 13:40

If your old Peugeot didn't work in the first place and you had a working Ferrari why would you still drive your old Peugeot?

But my Peugeot works well enough - it gets me from A to B.
In order to have a Ferrari I would have to take another job, or change my priorities.

BMI works well enough.
Other tools require more effort and come at a price.

When my Peugeot stops working or when Ferraris come down in price I will re-think.


Sallygoroundthemoon · 11/10/2018 13:57

I agree hollybob. My BMI is 22 and I look healthy. At 9 1/2 stone, which is the top end for my height (I'm very short) I'd look overweight.


RhiWrites · 11/10/2018 14:11

I used to think BMI was complete nonsense. But now I have a much better sense of body composition because I e used the Boditrax system to measure my body fat and muscle.

Now I think BMi is a good guideline to aim for until you have more precise data on your body.

@nbvkfnh I set staggered goals for myself. I started trying to lose weight at 15 stone 7 in February 2017 and then I aimed for 12 stone. I reached that goal in May 2018 and set a new goal of 10 stone, (the very top end of “healthy BMI” for my height of 5’3). Today I am 10’7.

At this point my personal trainer has said that weight should not be a factor in how I set my goals. It’s no longer the main factor, for sure, because I now enjoy working out and I want to be stronger. But I’m going for the 10 stone mark anyway.

In summary, BMI to inform your goal weight can feel like an unobtainable goal but it is possible. However, as you get closer to your goal weight I consider muscle mass and metabolic age more important and useful indicators.


TheOrigFV45 · 11/10/2018 14:16

Sallygoroundthemoon I don't get your point. The upper end of the range is not some sort of upper target for someone who is naturally at the lower end of the range.

I could put on nearly 20kg and still be in the healthy range for my height. It would not be healthy FOR ME, and that's why BMI is a guide.


Sallygoroundthemoon · 11/10/2018 14:21

I guess the point I was making was that most people who are over 25 BMI adult do look overweight, but don't think they do. Even 24/25 can be pushing it. I'm not even that small a frame. I'm a PT and a qualified weight management coach so I see a lot of different shapes and sizes. In my opinion, people tend to kid themselves that they are fine much more often than they are honest.

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