Message to my doctors: Do not tell me to lose weight

We need to change this message. The entire concept of BMI is outdated, and yet, doctors are still using it to measure our well-being. It needs to stop.

A message to my doctors, rather than making a remark about losing weight, perhaps you could enquire about my health? And then maybe, rather than comment on weight, you could provide tips that might actually help me get healthier, something like:

  • Eat a healthier diet … or even better, eat more salads / vegetables and less meat …
  • Do some strength training so you can be stronger …
  • Do some aerobic activity to help increase your endurance/cardiovascular health …

Those are much better messages to send. They are concrete things that I can actually do!

Telling me to lose weight only serves to make me feel bad about my body. It is also an improbable, if not impossible, task. If I knew how to lose weight, do you not think I’d already be doing it? It is even worse when that very same doctor is giving me medications that increase my appetite or take away the hormones in my system that help me to maintain a healthy body weight (but also help protect me from a recurrence of cancer).

The reality is, BMI says that I’m overweight. It always has. It doesn’t matter how strong or how fit I am. I rode my bike across Canada and the damn BMI still said I was overweight.

I’m getting stronger every day. My cardiovascular health is generally pretty darn good. I’m doing things that I could never imagine that I would do (like walking 32.5 miles in two days). If you to talk to me, you’d learn that I eat a healthy diet.

Short of starving myself (which I’m not willing to do), there ain’t much I can do differently to cause weight loss. So please, stop telling me to lose weight. I’m getting stronger every day, that should be good enough.

  • Becky


  • BMI is stupid and decontextualized. I have not looked overweight since i was 9 but when i exercise properly for a good period of time, my muscle mass increases such that my BMI says i am overweight. It’s silly. And ur right – ur overall health and ways of taking concrete action are much more relevant and helpful

  • Leslie has always been a big woman yet for years she out endure all the skinny staff at the pool where she worked teaching swimming, performing and coaching synchronized swimming and leading multiple aquacize sessions from the deck and in the pool. Yet the perception of being inactive followed her around for years. Her doctor didn’t have this bias because his kids were taught to swim by her and were in swim club where she also volunteered.
    Days before my second heart failure was “discovered” part of the misdiagnosis team included a surgeon who assured me that if he removed my gall stones I would make a speedy recovery. Fortunately for me he said he wouldn’t operate on someone as “fat” as me but if I lost weight he could perform miracles. Since my actual problem was having an aorta mostly detached from my heart (which the whole team missed) his care would have killed me so I was saved by my BMI.

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