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The Big Fat Weight Survey Press Release

Fighting FATphobia - Research calls for ban on BMI measurement as outdated NHS advice adds to the UK’s obesity problem

New research has found that the NHS is using flawed and outdated advice to help those with obesity, with a new call for BMI use to be scrapped to help fight the weight crisis in the UK.  

The poll of 1,500 respondents, of which 88% consider themselves heavier than the average person, found that 64% have been told by a health professional that they have obesity with 86% feeling negative about themselves as a result. 

Body Mass Index, calculated from weight and height, is used to categorise people as underweight, healthy weight, overweight or obese. However, 62% believed BMI is a crude indicator that ignores other factors which contribute to weight issues and that it is not a good measure of a person's health.

The use of BMI by the NHS has come under fire for failing to take into account other factors including physical activity and genetics and for perpetuating the myth that people with larger body sizes are unhealthy. 

The research was commissioned by inclusive cycling wear brand FLAB, who are urging the NHS to stop using BMI measures and archaic weight loss advice which undermines people's ability to have a healthy relationship with their body.

The study also calls into question the NHS advice on weight loss, from joining weight loss groups and calorie counting to consuming diet food alternatives, as well as the use of methods that fail to equip people who want to get help due to outdated initiatives. 


Nearly half polled (46%) had previously joined a weight loss group, one of the methods advised by the NHS to slim down. Whilst 75% lost weight they ultimately put it back on and only 7% managed to lose weight and keep it off.

By using flawed advice, such as recommending weight loss groups, the NHS is contributing to the UK’s obesity problem by creating a never ending cycle where people hoping to lose weight are not given the correct tools to do so and then blamed when it doesn’t work.

Further advice from the NHS shockingly tells women to consume just 1,400 calories a day, with the guidelines taking a simplistic approach on diets and low calorie foods - both unhealthy practices which do not take into account new findings around damaging diet foods and dangers of low calorie consumption.

A third of the adults polled were happy with their fitness level and 23% spent over 6 hours a week doing some kind of physical activity, including cycling, walking, weight training and swimming. FLAB’s community includes thousands of cyclists across the UK who are proof that your BMI doesn’t define your fitness or ability to get active and enjoy physically challenging cycling.

However, 64% said they were unhappy with their weight and whilst 45% believe that weight loss surgery is not a healthy and effective way to lose weight,  20% would consider going through with this. Additionally, 41% believe that weight loss drugs such as Ozempic are an unhealthy way to lose weight but 35% would use them. 

Dr Stephanie de Giorgio, an expert in obesity issues commented: xxxx

Lynn Bye, Co Founder of Fat Lad At The Back added: “We must end the reliance on BMI as a key measure of health and fitness which is outdated and overly simplistic. We asked our community of FLAB members how the current advice helps or hinders their lives, and the effects of weight stigma take a huge toll on people who aren't deemed to be average size.” 

To help break the cycle of the weight crisis, where people who have obesity are failed by advice that doesn't stack up and leaves them in a system that won't solve the issues, FLAB has teamed up with Dr Stephanie de Giorgio to understand the challenges that people face and create new advice for people to follow. 

“Our community are keen for better education for both children and adults on health, food and nutrition and believe that simple measures like banning Big Food brands from advertising processed food and confectionary to children would make our society healthier” added Lynn Bye. “A huge 79% of people are in favour of this, yet the government has delayed this initiative until 2025. We strongly feel that it should be implemented ASAP if the government genuinely want to tackle this issue.’