You may have heard the term “big-boned” used to describe some overweight or obese people. Sometimes it’s a self-description. How much do our bones really contribute to our weight?
The average human skeleton will account for around 12%-15% of total body weight. So, a 200-pound man would have a skeletal weight of 24-30 pounds. A 150-pound woman has a skeletal weight of 18-22.5 pounds. Bone density refers to the concentration of minerals in your bones, yet dense bones may add only a few pounds to your frame. As an adult continually gains weight throughout life, it’s not because their bones become continually bigger and heavier.
An adult’s skeleton weighs more than a child’s. And a 7-foot person’s skeleton weighs more than a 6-foot person’s, who’s skeleton weighs more than a 5-foot person’s skeleton. Beyond this, people are not “big-boned.” The bones in people of the same height are relatively the same weight. Most people who weigh too much for their height typically do so because of excess body fat, though a more-muscular body does indeed weigh more than a less-muscular body.
Seventy-five percent of Americans are now either overweight or obese. Yet, most people aren’t body builders. Our national weight problem is a fat problem, unrelated to too much muscle or too much bone.
The term “big-boned” is not a medical term. One orthopedic surgeon would tell her patients, “I have seen your bones, and they’re not big.” Being “big-boned” or “small-boned” doesn’t justify a 30-35 pounds differential from a normal-weight person of your height. If you are truly convinced that you are just big-boned and not overweight, buy a body-fat scale to measure your fat percentage. Excess weight is either the result of excess fat or excess muscle, not excess bone or big bones.
So, the notion of being big-boned is a big myth… unless you’re Shaquille O’Neal, who is 7-feet, 2-inches tall.
By the way, in 1992, at the start of O’Neal’s rookie season, he was listed at 325 pounds. According to Shaq, he weighed 395 pounds by 2002. But it wasn’t because his bones got bigger or heavier though.