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BMI and young dancers


taxi4ballet
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Hi all,

 

I was wondering if any of you out there had any advice on BMI as my dd (although probably the slimmest in her class at school) is beginning to notice that she is filing out, and I want to reassure her that she is absolutely fine.

 

She's 13 and is far more likely to accept facts and figures than listen to me!

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My dd thought she had "fat thighs" for a while in Junior School. She was only on the 5th centile for weight and that didn't mean anything to her until I explained that if there were 100 girls in the school hall, 95 of them would be heavier than her. She could visualise that so it helped. :-)

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Hi

 

I did this last night for my dd. The healthy bmi range is different from adults & is also different for girls & boys as I did my ds as well. Not that we were concerned about either of them, just that dh was looking at his last night so they wanted to do theirs too :rolleyes:

 

Google childrens bmi calculator & there are loads of sites.

 

It takes into account their age,sex & height.

 

Hope this helps.

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My advice would probably be to not get into discussions about BMI in all honesty. Whilst it's a kind of broad guide to healthy weight it's not the be all and end all of weight assessment. The adult calculations aren't always applicable in children and it's a measure that can be particularly unreliable in athletic type people because they have lots of muscle. One of my friend's sons is a serious rugby player and he is a big lad, but absolutely NOT fat, he's solid muscle. However, according to BMI he is obese! I calculated my DD's BMI for curiosity after my friend told me this and she was just within the "normal" range, though to look at her I would describe her as slim and healthy. So I don't have much faith in it and certainly wouldn't want my DD trying to reach a lower BMI. I would urge caution.

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I too would caution the use of charts etc., (other than for our own information) as it can be misleading - there are no 'standards' when it comes to body size, its all to do with 'normal' for the individual.

 

Very active children also have a much heavier muscle ratio to fat and this will also lead to misleading results - it is perfectly natural for any girl at this age to 'fill out a little' the body needs fat reserves at this age - everyone will go through it and it all adjusts its self out in a couple of years.

 

Difficult one to explain to a 13 year old where facts are understood but they still dont like their image. A reminder that a dancer needs a healthy foundation to grow and develop from was helpful for my daughter.

 

Puberty has a lot to answer to :rolleyes:

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I agree that BMI isn't a great indicator for a healthy weight. I also know very slim athletes whose BMI is very high due to muscle, therefore very misleading. There was a case in the news some time ago, regarding a boy whose parents had been sent a letter after a weight check at school advising them that he was overweight and needed to watch his diet. The boy was again an athlete and infact extremely healthy.

All body builders would probably be deemed as morbidly obese if they were to measure their health by BMI. :)

 

My youngest daughter feels that she is overweight as she has also filled out due to puberty, she definitely isn't and after having some time together this holiday I think I have reassured her somewhat.

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I found a bmi calculator on the internet and she comes out at 16.5, which was roughly what I thought it would be anyway, she is naturally slender - must get it from her dad who is built like a racing snake!

 

She doesn't think she's overweight at all, I think it's more to do with being self-concious about her bust developing, when most of the girls in her associate class are totally flat-chested. She also started her periods when she was only 10.

 

Having found the chart though, I think if I show it to her she will see proof that she has nothing to worry about. Obviously everybody's kids think in different ways, but she's quite scientifically-minded and will take a chart on board and accept it much more readily than listening to mum's reassurances.

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I think it is very difficult for girls who develop early as they naturally feel big compared to the children around them.

 

Perhaps if you tell her that her body age is more comparable with that of a 12 or 13 year old an suggest she compares herself against some older friends that could help?

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It's quite worrying that these girls find it hard to embrace the fact that they are becoming young women with the bodies to match. It's all to do with the prevailing ballet aesthetic (very thin), I suppose. I'm surprised, Taxi4ballet, that at 13 more of her friends are not well developed. In my experience, many 11 year olds are already wearing bras or bra type vests. Regarding BMI charts, I too would be wary of referring to these (even the ones designed for children). Children have different builds and develop at different rates and the results can be really misleading in some cases.

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Aileen, as I said in my first post - she is one of the slimmest in her school class.

 

My dd is not finding it hard to embrace becoming a young woman at all, it's just apparent to her that nearly everyone in her vocational class is stick thin and bustless (that's their problem, not hers), and some of them are 16.

 

An RAD examiner told me once that vocational schools ask for height / weight on application forms so they can calculate BMI so it can't be as misleading as all that, can it?

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I don't know a single teenage girl who isn't insecure about their body shape in comparison to other teenage girls. :-)

 

The girls in my dd's Associate class (all 13 and 14) are all slim BUT with varying sizes of bust, hips, bottoms and thighs. They're all growing at different rates and look different from one week to the next.

 

The dance physio says that teenagers change right up until about 17 and much depends on hormones, amount and type of exercise etc. The really slim flat chested ones may not look like that a year from now. As long as your dd is eating the right amount and type of food to keep her fuelled for dancing then that's fine.

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I'm not a dancer and I've never even had a dance lesson but I can (just about) remember how awkward and insecure I felt when my body was changing as a teenager.

 

BTW, my preference is most definitely NOT for stick thin dancers, and I am sure that I am not the only audience member who feels that way. Many years ago, I saw a Mariinsky performance of Giselle in Manchester. I was in the rear stalls and stopped using my bins after a few minutes because I could not bear to look too closely at the stick thin lady dancing Giselle.

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my dd who is only 9 already has a problem.She constantly thinks she is to fat.She is very petit and small boned but has a little pop belly.In her ballet class she is the smallest and to me looks like a typical ballet dancer.She gets very upset because she finds it so hard to pull up and create a flat stomach through out the lesson.It dosent matter what i say she still thinks she is fat.I must admit im starting to get a bit worried!

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tomuchtalent - perhaps your dd's little belly is caused by her tummy muscles not being very strong. That would also be why she finds it difficult to pull up throughout the class. Perhaps ask her teacher if she can recommend any abs strengthening exercises appropriate to her age. Could take the focus away from being fat and turn it towards improving strength.

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tomuchtalent - tell your dd not to worry. My dd had a 'pop belly' at this age too despite being small boned and tiny. We have a wonderful picture of her in a tutu where she is mainly tummy! She was still this shape when she was was offered an RBS JA place. She is now at White Lodge. As glowlight says it is about muscular strength - something that time and ballet training will sort out.

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One of the problems is that the girls are in an environment where they are comparing themselves against a very small group. They are comparing thin to thin, rather than to the "normal" population. Ballet can be a very isolating activity. I find it sad that so much of ballet discussion has to do with height, weight, splits, stretching, etc. That is all external stuff. An atificial look/style that changes with the decades. At one time "fat" was considered healthy and a sign of wealth.

 

A nine yr old (as referened above) who is worried about looking fat - is a concern. I can't remember ever thinking about my weight at that age.

 

Certainly part of the problem is the culture in which we live which extols thinness, excoriates anything deemed fat - or even rounded - which makes very few of us "acceptable." People tell me that I am very slender - but since I am 10 pounds more than when I was dancing - I don't think of my self as slender. All those years of being in the dance world has warped my view of myself. But - I keep reminding myself my view is "warped." So, I don't try to lose those 10 pounds.

 

I can remember a dancer who I simply couldn't bear to watch - lovely as her dancing was - because she was positively skeletal - she was a sick looking wraith. It ruined her artistry.

 

Before there was such a thing as BMI - what did we do? We looked at a child, as a parent interested in the child's health, and went with our gut feeling that the child looked healthy. If a child is eating well, happy to come to the supper table, eats a variety of food, is not always talking about physical appearance, sleeps well, and enjoys physical acitivity and friends (outside of ballet) - then I would dump any thoughts of BMI.

 

It is also important to remember that it is normal for a gain in weight just before a growth spurt, just as it is normal as part of the hormonal cycle.

 

I can remember when as a new mother I was reading with great attention Dr. Spock 's book on child raising until I came to the sentence - (paraphrase) "pay attention to your gut feeling as a parent and go with it." At that point I put the book down and went with my natural instincts as a mother. Seemed to work out well. He's a good husband, father, son - and pays his taxes on time.

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I have to confess to finding our interest in ourchildren's BMI very concerning. My dd,who is in year 6 at school, had her weight, height and BMI measured as part of local health monitoring and the results posted to us. Part of me thinks "why?" She is a dancer,slim beautiful and passionate, but not "slight" on the BMI scale. Of course she isn't, she has muscle that others her size don't. I take no notice of such results and discourage her from doing so too. And dare I say that, if this is the one thing that is stopping her from getting her break in the ballet world, then neither her,nor I, ever want her to change or think differently of her shape or physique.

She is beautiful just the way she is!

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I would be a brilliant director of a school or a company!

I have never looked at anyones weight and thought they were to big or to small ect.It would be purely on the way they danced.I would probably have the best dancers in the world!

I have never dieted or even thought about my wieght and dont really know where my dd gets this idea from at such a young age.

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I find it very frustrating and annoying when coming from a fitness background that BMI tables are not used in an appropriate way. Any professional who uses these scales/tables are only supposed to be using these as a guide with patients/clients and not delivering the results of these tables in such a blatant way.

I have worked in gyms and clubs where delivery of such results has been quite damaging for the person on the receiving end. It is vitally important that these results are discussed in an informative and constructive way so that the patient/client is fully aware and informed correctly of why their bmi's maybe high/low etc.

Edited by amber21
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I think that getting fixated on numbers is a very bad idea - yes they need to know that muscle does weigh more heavily than fat so they can be slim, toned and healthy but weigh more than someone who looks larger!

 

I do NOT think that young dancers in training need to know what their BMI is, personally. It is setting them up for comparisons, paranoia and future problems. My DD has a lovely balletic figure but, having recently found she has not got an SA place at RBS (despite only ever had very positive feedback all through MAs and clearly standing out as being one of the good ones), she is now thinking it is because she must be too big... she is tall and has a lovely figure - not skeletal, but certainly not large!!! Yes she has developed a little - but I would expect her to - she is heading on for year 10!!!!!

 

Makes me so mad when people concentrate so much on height, weight etc etc rather than ability! (rant over...)

F x

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Tomuchtalent, my dd had a round belly for a couple of years and my doctor brother-in-law explained that as well as back muscles being stronger than stomach muscles / core, most young children have a rounded tum due to arrangement of their internal organs, particularly the liver, growing sooner than the rest of the child. He likened it to why our adult teeth don't have enough room until the jaw is big enough.

 

By the way, last night I told my dd her BMI, she grinned and then ate a huge pile of fish and chips washed down with half an easter egg. Not much to worry about there!

 

I agree with all the comments about some dancers looking too thin, it's no fun at all watching someone's ribs rather than their dancing, and I do think that the winds of change might just be starting to blow...?

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Interesting that lots of people here DO know that using BMI for dancers is rubbish - because muscle is heavier than fat! This makes me happy in that all of our young dancers have parents who know their stuff!

 

The tide may well be starting to turn; this years Dance UK conference (which I can't go to because I am teaching!) is all about body image, healthy eating and eating disorders in dance http://www.eventbrite.com/event/3053540221/efblike

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