Q&A: Is my BMI too high?


The Question:

I read your Eating Less book some years ago and again recently and it helped a lot in gaining control of my eating. As a result I have lost excess weight and am now three stones below what I weighed at my peak. I enjoy my increased mobility and I am happy with the way I look too. I have a question about the medical profession’s obsession with BMI as a measure of health.

I have been overweight since I was 9 years old. As I got older, due to addictive eating and dieting, I reached obese level and this is why I have taken action and redressed the situation. I have now reached stability through following your advice as well as fasting intermittently, which I feel benefits me by giving my body a regular rest.

I am happy as I am now. However, I have not reached my ideal BMI and weight, and remain about 10 pounds overweight according to the charts. Based on other measurements, such as waist-to-hip ratio, I am perfectly healthy and I feel healthy too.

But when I go to the doctor I still dread being told that I should lose some more weight. I don’t want to go back to diet mentality. I wonder whether the reason for not reaching ‘ideal’ weight is that I cannot get rid of the fat cell walls for all those fat cells that were once plump and are now deflated. I wonder whether we should make allowance for such extra flesh for those, like me, that used to have quite a lot of fat and have lost it.

Am I on to something real or is my addiction trying to find another excuse for me not to cut down further on eating? What do you think?

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  1. Chancery

    To the original questioner, I’d say that I find it very hard to believe a doctor would question you being only 10lbs overweight, or suggest dieting. I think you maybe need to be kind to yourself and do lots of back-patting for how amazing your achievement is – you’ve managed to do something the majority of dieters never ever do, lose weight and keep it off.

    Gillian, many thanks for the link to the study about liposuction. That’s a really interesting piece of data, indicating as it does that it’s not the weight loss per se that is the ‘healing’ factor, it’s the act of eating less (or perhaps changing what you eat). I’ve always thought the idea of ‘lose weight, get healthy’ is wrong, despite being extolled by doctors. It really should be get (eat) healthy, lose weight. It certainly doesn’t help that weight loss is touted as the be-all and end-all, and that chiefly it’s sold to us for cosmetic reasons, rather than health.

  2. Suzi

    Gillian, the last study you quoted seems very illogical to me. Just sucking out 23 lbs of fat does nothing to address the “overall” metabolic processes in the body – insulin regulation primarily, and a whole host of other hormonal factors related to actual foods eaten and lifestyle patterns that have contribute to the inflammation in the first place.

    I would expect there to be no difference in inflammatory markers without addressing what got someone overweight and inflamed in the first place!

    I wonder how much money was spent on that one! I can only imagine that poor person’s body after all that, and then not being any closer to true health!

  3. Oola

    I had a doctor tell me to lose weight only once, even though I had been overweight and then mildly obese for years. It had to do with bladder problems. He thought excess weight was putting pressure on it. It turned out he was wrong, but I became exasperated with my gorging and grazing habits and changed them anyway. I’m no longer “overweight,” but am not especially thin. I think IF that reduces calorie intake over the long run is probably very beneficial, even if it doesn’t lead to thinness. Not everyone will become thin on the same number of calories. But periodically cutting calories without bingeing afterwards is proving to do a lot of good. Please don’t avoid the doctor over this.

  4. Val

    I found the OP’s question about fat cells very interesting, too: ” I wonder whether the reason for not reaching ‘ideal’ weight is that I cannot get rid of the fat cell walls for all those fat cells that were once plump and are now deflated.” Any insight on this? I have read articles about fat cells increasing in number, not only in size, as we gain weight and how the process is apparently irreversible…

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