One of the most frequently asked question by weight conscious people is: “How much should I weigh for my height and age?”. People have started realizing the importance of ideal body weight. Maintaining ideal body weight is important not only for cosmetic reasons but also to keep you fit and healthy. Several factors have to be considered while determining ideal body weight. Factors such as the age of a person, height, gender, bone density and muscle/ fat ratio must be taken into consideration while determining proportionate body weight.
If you are over 40 years of age and have high cholesterol levels, or are suffering from high blood pressure and hypertension, you must watch your weight very carefully. While Body Mass Index (BMI) may give you an indication of where you stand, a regular health check up by a qualified professional every 6 months could help prevent serious health complications in the future.
Most of the body weight is composed of muscle mass, bone density and fat.Â Â Although deposition of fat in the adipose tissue is the main factor for increase in weight, build up of muscle mass can also be a reason for weight gain. Muscle addition is common with body-builders who are on a special muscle enhancing diet, or with people involved in strenuous physical work. Some people have a high bone density which makes the person weigh heavier. A seemingly thin person may weigh more than another of the same body frame simply because his bones are heavier.
Tools to Determine Proportionate Body Weight
Professionals have commonly adopted three methods to determine ideal weight your height and age:
- Body Mass Index: A cross-reference table of weight and height
- Waist/Hip Ratio: The length of your waist in comparison with your hip size
- Body Fat Percentage: How much of your weight is because of the fat
As expected, some professionals prefer one method over the other. Each have their pros and cons. While some consider BMI as the best way for determining whether your body weight is ideal for your height, many others say it has flaws. They claim the BMI methodÂ does not consider the muscle mass and that waist to hip ratio is a better option. A body builder will have more muscle and weighs more compared to a person who is of the same height and has a lot of fat around the waist. In this case, the muscular body builder will have a higher BMI than the fat person.
The Waist/Hip ratio does not measure the body fat or the muscle. So, although this ratio may not tell you if your weight is right for the height, it is still considered to be more reliable than the BMI.
Body Weight and Height Comparison
The Body Mass Index (BMI) is frequently used by dieticians to give you a quick indication of your body weight. BMI is calculated as follows:
- BMI = weight in kilograms/(height in meters squared)
- BMI = (weight in pounds/(height in inches squared ))x 703
For example, if your weight is 180 pounds, and your height is 70 inches (5 feet and 10 inches), then your BMI will be
BMI = ((180/72*72)) * 703 = 24.41
Now you can look at the BMI table and see if 24.41 is good, bad or just average.
Interpreting Body Mass Index:Â Use the following to get a quick opinion of your weight based on your height
- 18.5 or less: Low BMI (underweight)
- 18.5 to 24.9: Medium BMI (normal weight)
- 25 to 29.9: High BMI (overweight)
- 30 and above: Very-High BMI (obese)
Flaws of BMI: Many people claim BMI does not give the correct idea of the ideal weight. The reasons they put forward are:
- It does not take into consideration muscle weight, which may also be a reason for weight gain.
- It does not consider bone density.
Waist/Hip Ratio (WHR): Waist Size as an Indication of Being Overweight
Disproportionate accumulation of fat around the waist is not good for health. If you feel your waist size is more than your friend, having the same height with “normal” BMI index, you are probably considered overweight. Increase in waist line can invite many obesity related diseases. Typically, though not always true in all cases, women with a waist size of over 35 inches and men with over 40 inches should be careful, even if their BMI is in the normal range. They are prone to cardiovascular diseases.
WHR (waist/Hip ratio) is a better indicator for ideal body weight than BMI according to many experts. Men and women with their respective ideal WHR (M=<0.9, F=<0.8) are at less risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other lifestyle diseases. The fertility ratio in them is more than their counterparts having raised WHR.
How to Calculate and Interpret the Waist to Hip Ratio
Measure your waist periodically if you feel you are on the borderline of these thresholds. To measure, hold a tape around your abdomen, just above the hip bone, not too tightly, but just about touching your skin. Exhale, relax and record your measurement. You may want to repeat this once or twice a month to keep track. If you find that you are consistently gaining inches around your waist for the last few months, you may want to seek help from a specialist.
Steps to measure WHR:
- Measure your waist circumference at the level of your umbilicus.
- Measure the largest circumference area of the hip.
- WHR= waist size in inches/ hip size in inches.
For example, if your waist circumference is 30 inches and hip circumference is 38 inches, then your WHR = 30/38 = 0.789. The lower the WHR, the lower the risk of cardiovascular or heart related ailments.
WHR for males:
- WHR lower than 0.9 indicates lower risk of coronary artery disease, stroke, hypertension etc.
- WHR more than 1 indicates high risk of coronary artery disease, stroke and hypertension.Â
WHR for females:
- WHR less than 0.8 indicate low risk of heart diseases.
- WHR higher than 0.9 indicate high risk of coronary artery disease and brain stroke as well as hypertension.
Body Fat Percentage as An Indicator of Ideal Weight
“Body Fat Percentage” is the weight of fat present in the body divided by the total body weight. For example, if you body fat weighs 20 pounds and your body weight is 120 pounds, then your body fat percentage is 16.6 (20/120 %). The total fat includes “essential fat” that is required for our survival and the “storage fat”.
Ideal body fat percentage for men is 18%-25%. In women, body fat percentage between 25%-31% is considered healthy. Men and women, who are athletes, will have lower body fat percentage as they keep burning fat due the physical activities they undertake.
Men with body fat percentage over 27% and women with body fat percentage over 35% are considered to be overweight. They are at a risk of suffering from diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
You can calculate BMI and WHR at home. For calculating body fat percentage you require a special device. Many gyms and doctor’s keep such devices to calculate body fat percentage.
You can check the BMI chart to determine your ideal body weight for your height. But that is not necessarily accurate all the time. WHR is more accurate than BMI. However, if you are a person with average daily activity and not into sports or weight training, BMI can be a useful indicator for your ideal weight for your height and age.
But if you are a fitness freak and embark on weight training exercises in the gym, or if you are a sports person, then WHR method is suitable for determining the ideal body weight.
If you are not satisfied with indications from these two methods, check your body fat percentage.
How much you should weigh for your height and age has no direct and perfect answer. However, the information provided here should help you get a feel for what you need to do next to keep your weight in check and stay fit and healthy.
If you have the following conditions, seek professional advice:
- Normal health and BMI is over 30.
- Any history of heart trouble, cholesterol or any other cardiac ailment and your BMI is over 25.
- Waist size is over 40 inches (men) and 35 inches (women), you may want to get professional advice before its too late.
Also, take a look at Dietary Guidelines for Americans has been published jointly every 5 years since 1980 by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA).