The BMI “healthy weight calculator” is available on the NHS Choices website and used by health professionals up and down the country daily. What they don’t tell you though is that it is ridiculous and doesn’t apply to everyone by a long shot.
Please note, none of the photos in this article has been edited or filtered in any way.
What does the NHS say about BMI?
According to the NHS Choices information “BMI takes into account natural variations in body shape, giving a healthy weight range for a particular height.”
The website also tells us that “Muscle is much denser than fat, so very muscular people, such as heavyweight boxers, weight trainers and athletes, could be a healthy weight even though their BMI is classed as obese.”
Whilst I appreciate this is saying that not everyone can be categorised by the BMI measurement it is indicating that the majority of people can. Something I still believe to be untrue.
Your BMI can be calculated using the embedded calculator below. Many good bathroom scales also show your BMI.
Supplied by BMI Calculator UK
What clothes size do you consider to be overweight?
Your answer would be that everyone is different right? Of course everyone is different but equally would you say anyone could ever be a size 8 or 10 and be overweight?
Personally, I think no, I think depending on body shape, height etc the line changes and for some people size 14 could make them look overweight but for most, I think a 16/18/20 is roughly where the line would be depending on height, shape etc and of course, personal preferences vary too.
BMI allegedly takes this into account and uses height and weight to calculate what is a healthy weight for you. I say this is rubbish though in more cases than the few it implies on the NHS website.
Look at yourself, look at the weight difference between what you are now and what the guidelines of BMI say you should be, does it seem to make sense?
Can you imagine being healthy in that bracket? I guess there, of course, will be some people who are but also many who are not.
Is it all about the numbers?
The photo of me above (not where I am now since I have gained weight!), what do you think? Where on the scale of BMI would you put me? Underweight? Healthy Weight? Overweight? Obese?
In the photo below of my friend Claire strawberry picking, where do you put her on the same scale? She has given me permission to use her photo and tell you the answer!
In the picture of me further down in a long blue ball gown style dress again where would you put me? As you look and read through have a think, further down I will tell you what the BMI scale says for us both!
What do youngsters think?
This is something that really concerns me. Is it any wonder that so many young people have body image problems and hate the way they look?
If they think they look fat (probably unnecessarily) and then investigate online they will easily find this outdated and rather useless scale and have their views confirmed how will this affect them through life?
As a child, I thought I was fat (photo below) and this was before the internet and ability to look at BMI etc. Before there was so much in the media about body image.
I am pretty sure if you walk into a newsagent and look at the front pages of newspapers (particularly tabloids) and celebrity magazines. There will be one if not more criticising someone’s weight or drawing attention to their weight loss.
Do we ever see these same media outlets sharing the other achievements of these celebrities?
Do we see them sharing how amazingly young celebrities have done in exams or other accomplishments not linked to looks and weight?
What message is this giving to our youngsters?
What should we do about it?
Personally I think that there are a few simple things we should do.
1. Never mention numbers of weight and BMI to children, tell them if they look nice without using words like fat or thin and praise them and others on everything not just looks.
2. Look at ourselves in the mirror and if we are happy with our body and not worry so much about numbers on the scales.
3. Strive for a healthy life rather than a skinny life.
4. Tell the NHS where to stick their BMI Scale – ok maybe this is not as easy as it sounds but I think the more we criticise it and the more we ignore it the better!
What do the NHS BMI guidelines say about the above weights?
In both photos of me when I was at my Slimming World target weight, the one in the blue ballgown type dress and the one in black on a balcony, I was considered as being healthy weight.
I do not have a problem with this however in both photos if I had gained just 3lb I would have fallen into the overweight category! In both photos also I could have lost 3 stone and 1 pound and still just been in the “healthy weight” category!
I was a size 6-8, how could I lose 3 stone and still be healthy, I would have been skeletal and surely dangerously ill?
Claire in her photo (standing on grass with a strawberry collecting basket) is classed as healthy weight in that photo. Claire could lose 2 stone and still be classed a healthy weight according to her BMI. How can this be right?
Do you agree with the BMI scales? If not then show others these photos, question the BMI scale and help raise awareness that this scale is outdated rubbish and it needs to go.
The government need to scrap this scale and help ensure that negative body weights are not suggested any more. Please do use the comment box below to share your thoughts.
BMI is Outdated Rubbish!
I truly believe that one of the reasons I have struggled with my weight for so much of my life is linked to the BMI charts. I was still feeling I was fat when I was so close to the top of the BMI healthy bracket, how crazy is that!
Now I want to lose some of what I have gained and get back to a point where I was happy and ignore those stupid numbers!
Will you join me? Take back the power and ignore those numbers to ensure you are both happy and healthy!
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Too much emphasis on numbers – doesnt incorporate so many factors
That are needed for health
You are right positive steps such as healthy eating exercise etc
So many kids are being mentally challenged because of the powers that be
I stopped taking any notice of it when it told me that I'd be healthy at around 7 and a half stone (I'm 5ft 5in). Now I know some people would be, but I know I wouldn't be healthy at that weight, and I think generalising like that can be really damaging
Same as Rachel. According to that I'm super healthy but I don't feel super healthy, in fact I really struggle Kato with the lack of sleep and exercise, eating way to much sugar and snacking constantly – however I'm not putting weight on. I'm just lucky, but that's not enough on the long run.
I am technically at the extreme top of healthy BMI for my height but I know I am not at a healthy weight for me. I need to take better care of myself, stop snacking in the evening and start some exercises to strengthen my core muscles. That will help.
I think feeling happy and confident in yourself and being healthy/fit is far more important than any measurement. I agree not to mention weight when speaking with children is a good idea. My teen daughter has already started to discuss her appearance regularly and I don’t want her feeling like she has to follow what society says is expected of her for her height or age etc. She is healthy and that’s what counts x