Why do people say "lose weight" instead of "lose width?"

(In this thread, I’m referring to people who want to become thin to look more attractive. Someone who is a medical patient may well need to lose weight.)
If people want to be thinner, why do they talk about ‘losing weight’ instead of 'losing width?"

Shouldn’t they focus on losing inches of diameter, not pounds? Is it because weight is easier to measure (just step on a scale)?

I think a thin person who weighs 200 lbs would be happier about their appearance than a super-wide person who weighed 100 pounds. (That’s a rhetorical point; obviously a thin person is unlikely to weigh more than a wide person.)

Pounds lost are much more objectively measured, or so people think. People get on the scales and see that they’ve lost weight. Unless they know how to measure themselves and what it means, measuring width doesn’t really tell them much.

Nitpick: A loss of diameter would be more a loss of girth, not width.

People do talk about dropping dress sizes, so I think it’s just different terminology.

Losing weight will show itself in a lot of different ways: a smaller waist, a more well-defined jawline, loss of a double chin, a less protruding gut, a general visible “tightness” of the skin, etc. In fact, depending on your personal fat distribution pattern, it may well be that a reduction of width, as measured across the widest part of your body, is the last thing that happens, if it happens at all.

So “losing weight” is more accurate than “losing width”, since the latter focuses on just one of the many aspects of improving one’s physique.

People talk about losing inches, pants sizes, dress sizes, etc all the time. Not as much as pounds, but it is a pretty big metric.

FWIW, concepts like proportions are important to sexual attraction more than pounds themselves. Women who have a waist 70% the size of hips and breasts or men who have a waist 75% or smaller than shoulders are deemed more sexually attractive. Pounds independently do not matter as much as proportions.

Also waist size is probably a better predictor of health risks than BMI. So we would as a society be better off talking about proportions or waist size over weight and BMI. But we don’t.

Because we gain and lose weight in three dimensions (heavier parts tend to sag towards -Z). Width is only one of those dimensions.

Also, guys who lose weight aren’t going to go buy a whole new wardrobe just because they lost a few pounds; they’re going to tighten up their belts and keep wearing the same clothes, so changes in size don’t matter as much to them.

Many people who want to lose size aren’t going to lose a lot of width, for example those for whom it deposits mostly in their bellies. I have heard people specify (mostly at the gym) “I’m not trying to lose weight, I’m trying to lose size”.

My healthcare system now takes hip/waist ratio into account, along with BMI and several others. I understand it’s lowered a large amount of “you must lose weight urgently!” to “please do try to lose some kilos, ok? Or at least not gain!”

I found myself losing width but not as much weight after starting a higher-protein diet and a weight-training regimen. To my chagrin, my workplace’s annual health fair gave me an “atta-girl” for dropping my waist size nearly 4" from the year prior but no award for being at 25.4 BMI (25.0 is overweight). So to get their cash bonus for doing something ‘good’ about my weight I have to go through a ‘healthful eating’ course and weekly weigh-ins for a couple months. (Just faithful participation/attendance is required, not results.)

My BMI is already in the normal range and I plan on dropping more inches as well as pounds, but I was mad that I had been transforming fat into muscle and that waist measurement change got barely any recognition.

Nitpick on the nitpick: a loss of circumference would be a loss of girth.

For better or for worse, “losing weight” has become the phrase du jour to express the same concept. I don’t think that one’s health should be as wrapped up in just the idea of that one number as it is, and I’d much rather see people do things like body fat and lean body mass calculations, but the whole concept that “losing weight” entails has changed with the times as well. So, even if someone is seeing a nutritionist and a personal trainer and they’re doing all the proper measurements for them, chances are, that person will still say they are “losing weight”.

That all said, while I often encourage people who ask me about it that they should be looking at a number of objectives, but most importantly things like how they feel, and body fat, in the end, some of those goals are very subjective and difficult to track, and some of them are technical and difficult to measure properly, so we’re left with the simplicity of just stepping on a scale. And, to be fair, if one has a good body fat measurement and know what his mass distribution is, he can probably do a decent job of tracking it with weight. Even if it’s not that accurate, seeing those little victories every week or so are helpful.

So, I don’t really care, we all know that when someone says that, they generally mean they want to lose fat, likely improve muscle mass and tone, and adjust some of their measurements, notably ones like waist and thigh smaller. So even if “weight loss” isn’t the most accurate term for it, it seems to me that no one is really particularly confused by it either, so do we really need another one, especially if it’s not really going to be significantly more accurate?

The easiest way to lose “width” is to lose weight anyway, isn’t it? Unless maybe you have some kind of really unusual muscle tone problem. In any case if you talked about person’s “width” I would think you were talking about their width from shoulder to shoulder. That doesn’t have much to do with health and isn’t going to change much for most people.

This does remind me of a high school physics teacher’s comment about how we really ought to say “lose mass” instead of “lose weight.”

The two are synonymous given that F=mg, except in the rare circumstances where g is a controlled variable. :cool:

Because they are normally highly correlated. And as mentioned, to measure progress, weighing oneself is easier and you see incremental results on a more granular level than measuring your waistline daily.

What about ‘lose distance between belly button and spine’?

Why would anybody *think *to say “I’m losing width?” Would a doctor ever tell an overweight patient “You need to lose width?” The doctor wouldn’t describe the patient as “overwidth.”

It’s amazing what some people will nitpick about.

A question in a textbook I used was worded thus: A woman has found that her clothes are fitting too tightly. Therefore, she says she should lose some weight. Why is losing weight not really what she wants to do?

The book answer is she should lose mass, not weight, since weight varies by location and mass doesn’t.

The best answer is that she has become too large for her clothes, and needs to lose some volume. :slight_smile: