The answer to this question many people are wanting to know: How much should I weigh? However, for each person there is not one ideal healthy weight, because a number of different factors play a role.
Factors that affect the weight are age, muscle-fat ratio, height, sex, and body fat distribution, or body shape.
Having weight which is in excess can affect a person’s risk of developing a number of health conditions, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular problems.
Health problems are not developed in everyone who carries extra weight. However, researchers believe that a lack of management of these extra pounds could lead to problems in the future while these extra pounds might not currently impact a person’ s health.
Body mass index (BMI) is a common tool for making a decision whether a person has an appropriate body weight. BMI measures a person’s weight in relation to their height.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH):
- A BMI which less than 18.5 means that a person is underweight.
- A BMI which is between 18.5 and 24.9 is ideal.
- A BMI which is between 25 and 29.9 is overweight.
- A BMI which is over 30 indicates obesity.
Weight and height guide chart
The following chart of weight and height uses BMI tables from to determine how much a person’s weight should be for their height.
|91 to 115 lbs.||119 to 138 lbs.||143 to 186 lbs.||191 to 258 lbs.|
|94 to 119 lbs.||124 to 143 lbs.||148 to 193 lbs.||198 to 267 lbs.|
|97 to 123 lbs.||128 to 148 lbs.||153 to 199 lbs.||204 to 276 lbs.|
|100 to 127 lbs.||132 to 153 lbs.||158 to 206 lbs.||211 to 285 lbs.|
|104 to 131 lbs.||136 to 158 lbs.||164 to 213 lbs.||218 to 295 lbs.|
|107 to 135 lbs.||141 to 163 lbs.||169 to 220 lbs.||225 to 304 lbs.|
|110 to 140 lbs.||145 to 169 lbs.||174 to 227 lbs.||232 to 314 lbs.|
|114 to 144 lbs.||150 to 174 lbs.||180 to 234 lbs.||240 to 324 lbs.|
|118 to 148 lbs.||155 to 179 lbs.||186 to 241 lbs.||247 to 334 lbs.|
|121 to 153 lbs.||159 to 185 lbs.||191 to 249 lbs.||255 to 344 lbs.|
|125 to 158 lbs.||164 to 190 lbs.||197 to 256 lbs.||262 to 354 lbs.|
|128 to 162 lbs.||169 to 196 lbs.||203 to 263 lbs.||270 to 365 lbs.|
|132 to 167 lbs.||174 to 202 lbs.||209 to 271 lbs.||278 to 376 lbs.|
|136 to 172 lbs.||179 to 208 lbs.||215 to 279 lbs.||286 to 386 lbs.|
|140 to 177 lbs.||184 to 213 lbs.||221 to 287 lbs.||294 to 397 lbs.|
|144 to 182 lbs.||189 to 219 lbs.||227 to 295 lbs.||302 to 408 lbs.|
|148 to 186 lbs.||194 to 225 lbs.||233 to 303 lbs.||311 to 420 lbs.|
|152 to 192 lbs.||200 to 232 lbs.||240 to 311 lbs.||319 to 431 lbs.|
|156 to 197 lbs.||205 to 238 lbs.||246 to 320 lbs.||328 to 443 lbs.|
|BMI||19 to 24||25 to 29||30 to 39||40 to 54|
Problem with BMI
BMI is a simple measurement. While it takes height into account, it does not take into account for factors such as:
- measurements of wait or hip
- fat – proportion or distribution
- muscle mass proportion
These can also have an impact on health.
For example high-performance athletes tend to be very fit and having body fat little. They can have a high BMI but this might not mean they are overweight because they are having more muscle mass.
BMI can also give a rough idea of whether or not a person is with healthy weight, and it is useful for measuring the trends in population studies.
However, it should not be considered the only measure for an individual to evaluate whether their weight is ideal or not.
A waist-to-hip measurement compares the person’s waist size with that of their hips.
Study has shown that people who have body fat more around their middle are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes.
The higher the waist measurement is in proportion to the hips, the greater is the risk.
For this reason, the waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) is a tool which is useful for calculating whether a person has a healthy weight and size.
Measuring waist-to-hip ratio
- Usually just above the belly button, measure the waist around in the narrowest part.
- Divide this measurement by the measurement around the hip at its widest part.
If a person’s waist is 28 inches and their hips are 36 inches, they will divide 28 by 36. This will give them a waist-to-hip ratio of 0.77.
What does it mean?
How WHR affects the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) is separate for both men and women, because they tend to have a body shape which is different.
Evidence recommends that WHR can have an impact on the risk of developing CVD as follows:
- The risk of cardiovascular health problems is low below 0.9.
- The risk is moderate from 0.9 to 0.99.
- The risk is high at 1.0 or over.
- The risk is low below 0.8.
- The risk is moderate from 0.8 to 0.89.
- The risk is high at 0.9 or over.
Depending on the source and the population to which the figures apply can vary.
WHR compared to BMI may be a better predictor of heart attacks and other health risks, whereas in BMI fat is not taken into consideration in the distribution.
A health records study for around 1,300 people in 11 countries, published in 2013, showed that those having a higher WHR also have a greater risk of medical and surgical complications relating to colorectal surgery.
However, WHR does not measure accurately the total body fat percentage of a person, or their muscle-to-fat ratio.
Method 3: Waist-to-height ratio
Waist-to-height ratio (WtHR) is another tool that might be useful to predict the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and overall mortality more effectively than that of BMI.
A person who is having waist measurement less than half their height has a lower risk of a number of life-threatening health complications.
Measure your waist-to-height ratio
These measurements will give a result of WtHR of just under 0.5.
In a study published in 2014, researchers had concluded that WtHR was a better and effective predictor of mortality than BMI.
The authors also cited findings from another study which involved statistics for around 300,000 people from different groups of ethnicity which concluded that WHtR is considered better than BMI at predicting heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and hypertension.
This recommends that the WHtR could be a useful screening tool.
Measurements that are taking waist size into account can be good indicators of a person’s health risks because fat that is been collecting around the middle can be harmful for the heart, kidneys, and liver.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have noted that a man with a waist size measurement of 40 inches or above, or a woman with a waist size measurement of 35 inches or above have a higher risk than other people of having:
- type 2 diabetes
- high blood pressure
- coronary artery disease
Person’s height or hip size however is not taken into consideration.
Method 4: Body fat percentage
Body fat percentage is calculated as the weight of a person’s fat divided by their total weight.
Total body fat includes fat that is essential and storage.
To survive, a person needs essential fat. It plays a role in a wide range of functions of the body. For men, it is healthy if having 2 to 4 percent of the body composition as essential fat. For women, the figure is 10 to 13 percent, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE).
The internal organs in the chest and abdomen are protected by fatty tissue, and the body can use it if necessary for energy.
Apart from the estimated guidelines for men and women, the ideal total fat percentage depends on a person’s body type or level of activity.
The following percentages is suggested by ACE:
|Activity level||Male body type||Female body type|
|Obesity||38% or more||42% or more|
A body fat of high proportion can indicate a greater risk of:
- heart disease
- high blood pressure
Body fat percentage calculation may be a good way to measure a person’s fitness level because it reflects the person’s body composition. BMI, in comparison, does not differentiate between fat and muscle mass.
How to measure body fat
Tissue on the thigh, abdomen, chest (for men) or upper arm (for women) will be measured by the health professional. According to ACE, the methods provide an accurate reading within around 3.5 percent.
Other techniques may include:
- hydrostatic body fat measuring also called underwater weighing
- air densitometry, which measures air displacement
- dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA)
- ï bioelectrical impedance analysis
None of the above can give a 100-percent accurate reading, but the estimated calculations are close enough to give a reasonable assessment.
For measuring a person’s body fat percentage many gyms and doctor’s offices have devices.
The four ways of evaluating a healthy weight are Body mass index (BMI), waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), waist-to-height ratio (WtHR), and body-fat percentage
The best way to get an accurate idea of whether to consider taking action or not the four techniques can be combined.
Anyone who has a concern about their weight, waist size, or body composition should consult to a doctor or nutritionist. They will be able to advice about options suitable.