“I weigh more because I’m big boned.”
Dr. Brenda Banaszynski, a Marshfield Clinic Health System family medicine physician, said you can be big boned, but larger bone structure doesn’t account for much extra weight.
Big boned means wider bones
Some people have bigger bones, Banaszynski said. For example, their wrists and elbows appear larger and may not be able to wear standard-sized watches and bracelets.
Measure your wrist to find out if you’re really big boned, since “body frame size is determined by a person’s wrist circumference in relation to height,” according to the National Institutes of Health.
People with the following measurements are considered large boned:
- Less than 5 feet 2 inches tall and wrist size larger than 5.75 inches
- 5 feet 2 inches to 5 feet 5 inches tall and wrist size larger than 6.25 inches
- More than 5 feet 5 inches tall and wrist size larger than 6.5 inches
- More than 5 feet 5 inches tall and wrist size larger than 7.5 inches.
Big bones don’t mean (much) extra weight
“Larger bones might account for a few pounds of weight but not 30 or 40,” Banaszynski said. “It’s not going to be the difference between a healthy body mass index (BMI) and being overweight.”
In the medical field, there are science and evidence-based recommendations for BMI that are standard due to the risks associated with a higher BMI.
Some people might confuse bone size with bone density, which refers to the concentration of minerals in your bones. Like large bones, dense bones may add only a few pounds to your frame.
Focus on exercise and portion control for weight loss
“If your BMI is in the overweight or obese category, you probably need to make changes to be healthier regardless of the width or density of your bones,” Banaszynski said. “Being overweight or obese increases your risk for diabetes and heart disease.”
Banaszynski recommends talking to your primary care provider to find what lifestyle changes work best for you. Higher BMI is not something to feel shame or embarrassment around, it’s only a way for your provider to assess your health and help.