England’s chief medical officer is concerned being overweight is seen as the norm by society.

She acknowledged that the fashion industry has an unhealthy stance on underweight models, but society it seems is going the other way.

The man and woman on the street are failing to see themselves as overweight and to acknowledge childhood obesity in their children, their view is that they are normal sized when they are in-fact overweight or obese, a dangerous view to have for their health and their children’s health.

How Do We Define Overweight?

Mcdonald's Sign

The medical definition of overweight or obese depends on an individual BMI or Body mass index anyone above 25 on their body mass index is overweight or obese. It’s not just weight that determines if your obese on the BMI chart and it certainly isn’t your dress size like it seems people on the street are using as a guide to determine if their overweight!

BMI formula is defined by your Age, Height and Weight these three key areas are what tells you what is normal size for you, it’s different for everyone so there can’t be such a thing as normal sized compared to others around you, there is no one definition of obese.

Dame Sally Davies the chief medical officer in England said

“I have long been concerned that being underweight is often portrayed as the ideal weight, particularly in the fashion industry.

“Yet I am increasingly concerned that society may be normalizing being overweight.

“Larger mannequins are being introduced into clothes shops and “size inflation” means that clothes with the same size label have become larger in recent decades.

“News stories about weight often feature pictures of severely obese people, which are unrepresentative of the majority of overweight people.”

“Nearly two thirds of adults and a third of children are overweight or obese – classed as a body mass index of above 25. This is about double the numbers in the early 1990s”

“But research shows that half of men, a third of women and over three quarters of parents do not recognize weight problems”

What is Obesity and BMI – What Does It Mean Really?

I remember when my husband went to the doctors and they gave him a check up the doctor told him his BMI was on the obese scale and he was very angry at the doctor for suggesting he was obese.

I think a lot of the problems comes from the medical definition of obese it’s hard for the public to grasp what obese means. To the public the Body Mass Index (BMI scale) is just numbers, it doesn’t mean anything and we tend to be skeptical of health professionals opinion on what overweight is since they are constantly giving the public conflicting information on what is good or bad for our health.

Calculating BMI

BMI vs Public Perceptions of Being Overweight

An ordinary persons perception of obese is totally different to the medical profession. The medical profession works with technical information of your Body Mass Index or BMI. The publics definition of being overweight is based on visual cues that shows them what Obese is.

* When someone mentions the word over weight images of a middle aged heavy drinker who has a beer belly bigger than a pregnant woman about to pop comes to mind, he can’t run other than if it’s for a pint.

* The word obese brings images of huge fold of fat protruding over waist bands and straining to break free. an obese person doesn’t walk they waddling down the street and take up the space of two or three people, but usually their riding a mobility scooter to avoid exercise.

* Morbidly obese conjures images of gelatinous blobs that look like they have melted in the heat of the sun, to move they need to be air lifted out of their beds and they are nothing more than food machines

Am I Overweight or Obese?

My husband looked like non of these stereo types so in his mind and mine he wasn’t obese hence the anger at the Doctor. Images that define overweight in the media particularly has become so extreme that the vast majority of people look at these examples and compare themselves directly! Being obese has nothing to do with visual cues but is most definitely defined by an individuals body mass index which is different for us all.

Is Being Over Weight Now Considered To Be Normal?

Society has changed it’s view on what is considered to be ‘normal’ the average woman is now a size 16, a decade ago it used to be a 12. What will the average size be another decade from now if this trend continues? This could be the beginning of a very worrying trend if society keeps moving the goal posts on what is ‘normal’. Societies definition of average does not make it healthy or correct. The fact is the average British woman is overweight, men I think have always had this image problem within society that being fat is OK.

When I was fat I defiantly saw myself as normal sized,without a doubt I never thought about myself as fat which is why losing weight was never on the agenda when I was a size 16-18. I made the mistakes this report from the chief medical officer in England was warning about. I was a mum, close to middle age and looked better than most of my peers on the high street.

How to Calculate BMI

There are some women whom being a size 16 is fine it’s their perfect weight. Very tall woman or body builders who’s weight is pure muscle are two examples that springs to mind, but for myself at 5’3″ it is not normal. My ideal weight is around 8 stone, to be a size 16 means your weight is 11 plus stone, which is way to fat for me but a taller woman it would be ideal.

We all have our ideal BMI according to our age, height and weight. We all have a perfect size for us as individuals one size does not fit all and it helps no one to have an unhealthy opinion on what is normal on an individuals health. I have read many comments on this subject that say a size 8 is unhealthy, yet my perfect size is a size 8.

Fat Woman Eating Cake

Society has become just as bad at promoting and encouraging a unhealthy body image as the fashion industry as towards skinny models, there both extreme bad examples from opposite sides of the spectrum. The truth is each of us must take responsibility for our ideal weight and educate ourselves on what is normal size for us as individual and not by comparing ourselves to others.

Women’s Average Dress Size – This is Worrying!

The average dress size of a woman in the UK is a size 16. Now I have lost weight and slimmed right down I’m finding it hard to get clothes that fit I suspect like Dame Sally Davis says in her report clothes sizes have gotten bigger. If this is true and dress sizes have increased to make us think we are slimmer than we are – playing to our vanity and insecurity.

Does that mean when I was a size 16-18 I was actually a size 20 plus! This is very concerning since it was dress size that gave me the kick up the bum I needed to to lose weight. In my mind a size 20 plus wasn’t acceptable – That was my idea of fat, if dress sizes are bigger than they used to be that means I was already well over a size 20 when I thought I was a 16-18.

Calculate My BMI – Body Fat Index

It’s important to calculate your BMI to find out how much extra body fat your carrying around for your health and health is the reason we need to be honest with ourselves and how big we are because health issues associated to being overweight are not going to go away because the rest of society tells you your acceptable in their minds eye.

After having the same mind set and been a product of what society classes as ‘normal’ size, I agree and with Dame Sally Davies that being overweight has been redefined as ‘normal’ in the public sphere. Normal is your ideal BMI, not a picture in a magazine, a TV program about grossly obese people or to compare yourself to what everyone looks like around you.

Drop a Jean Size

After educating myself and finally losing weight I can now see how wrong I was for thinking the way I did and I wish I had acted sooner instead of being ignorant and arrogant thinking I knew more than medical professionals on the definition of ‘normal’.

What Do You Think About Overweight Becoming The Norm

* Is the Chief Medical Officer right?
* Do people see overweight as being the norm?
* Do you or have you ever seen being over weight as the norm?
* Do you think a size 16 is normal for everyone
* or Do you have a different approach to what you see as being fat and view point on how to change it?

Marie XXX