NZ ladies not necessarily 'lardos'

01:01, Apr 03 2014
WHO YOU CALLING A LARDO? Aussie supermodel Robyn Lawley - seen modelling for Chantelle Paris here - is proof, at 82kgs, that judging health on weight and BMI alone does not work.

While the average Kiwi woman may weigh more than 70 kilograms, that doesn't make them "lardos", a dietician says.

Broadcaster Rachel Smalley yesterday created a furore for her comments in which she described New Zealand women weighing 70kg as "heifers" and "lardos".

Smalley had left her microphone on after an item about the morning-after pill and how it might be ineffective for women who weighed more than 70kg.

The average New Zealand female over the age of 15 weighs 72.6kg, statistics from a 2011 University of Otago and Ministry of Health survey show.

The average for Maori women was 81.8kg, Pacific women 88.6kg and New Zealand European women 70.7kg.

Consultant dietician and vice-president of Dieticians New Zealand Hannah Cullinane said both being underweight or overweight increased risks of health problems. People should aim for a "medium" - which was often challenging.


Many turn to the body mass index (BMI), a measure of weight adjusted for height which is used to estimate proportions of populations with increased risk of obesity-related health conditions.

The survey found the average BMI for a Kiwi woman was 27.6 kg/m2 - classified as "overweight".

But while the measure could be used as a rough guide, health was not a weight, number or size, Cullinane said.

"It [BMI] has never been designed for individuals and that's where people get really frustrated and upset with it, because it's not a fair representation of how much muscle they have or what their body shape is like," she said.

"The main thing a woman should be thinking about is how fit they're feeling, how strong they're feeling.

"Basically, if you're jiggling where you shouldn't be jiggling - especially around the tummy - then you should be worrying."

The word "lardo" represented an obese person, not someone of about 70kg, she said.

"At that weight the majority of people probably aren't. They're probably just curvy."

Nevertheless, Smalley's comments had provoked a useful discussion.

"As our population gets larger, people get used to larger being normal," she said.

"It is important for us to constantly question and consider where we sit in that spectrum and if we'e in the right place for our body."