Many people wish to know the answer to this question: how much should I weigh? There is no single ideal weight for all individuals. While various tools and calculators offer a guide, they may not be accurate in all cases.
A note about sex and gender
Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.
Tools to calculate a moderate weight range rely on factors such as age, height, and sex assigned at birth. However, everybody is different, and no single formula can determine a person’s ideal weight.
No one measure of body size can tell a person their exact health status or potential health risks. Eating a nutritious, balanced diet, exercising, and other lifestyle habits can support improved health regardless of a person’s weight.
There is some disagreement among medical experts about the usefulness of tools such as body mass index (BMI). These tools are not exact, and not everyone with excess weight will develop health issues.
However, some researchers believe people with obesity who have no other health conditions are still at increased risk for developing obesity-linked conditions, such as metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease in the long term.
People who want to learn more about their current health status, future risks, and ways to improve health can benefit from speaking with their doctor.
Read on to discover several tools that help estimate a person’s moderate weight range.
BMI is a common tool that measures a person’s weight in relation to their height. A BMI calculation provides a single number, which the
- A BMI of less than 18.5 suggests underweight.
- A BMI of between 18.5 and 24.9 suggests a healthy weight range.
- A BMI of between 25 and 29.9 may indicate overweight.
- A BMI of 30 or higher may indicate obesity.
However, the CDC also notes that BMI does not assess an individual’s body composition or their health. It is a screening tool that people should use alongside other tests and assessments to determine potential health risks.
Body mass index calculator
To calculate BMI, a person can use BMI calculators or review the charts below.
Weight and height guide chart
The following weight and height chart uses BMI tables from the
|4 ft 10 in|
|91–115 lb||119–138 lb||143–186 lb||191–258 lb|
|4 ft 11 in|
|94–119 lb||124–143 lb||148–193 lb||198–267 lb|
|97–123 lb||128–148 lb||153–199 lb||204–276 lb|
|5 ft 1 in|
|100–127 lb||132–153 lb||158–206 lb||211–285 lb|
|5 ft 2 in|
|104–131 lb||136–158 lb||164–213 lb||218–295 lb|
|5 ft 3 in|
|107–135 lb||141–163 lb||169–220 lb||225–304 lb|
|5 ft 4 in|
|110–140 lb||145–169 lb||174–227 lb||232–314 lb|
|5 ft 5 in|
|114–144 lb||150–174 lb||180–234 lb||240–324 lb|
|5 ft 6 in|
|118–148 lb||155–179 lb||186–241 lb||247–334 lb|
|5 ft 7 in|
|121–153 lb||159–185 lb||191–249 lb||255–344 lb|
|5 ft 8 in|
|125–158 lb||164–190 lb||197–256 lb||262–354 lb|
|5 ft 9 in|
|128–162 lb||169–196 lb||203–263 lb||270–365 lb|
|5 ft 10 in|
|132–167 lb||174–202 lb||209–271 lb||278–376 lb|
|5 ft 11 in|
|136–172 lb||179–208 lb||215–279 lb||286–386 lb|
|140–177 lb||184–213 lb||221–287 lb||294–397 lb|
|6 ft 1 in|
|144–182 lb||189–219 lb||227–295 lb||302–408 lb|
|6 ft 2 in|
|148–186 lb||194–225 lb||233–303 lb||311–420 lb|
|6 ft 3 in|
|152–192 lb||200–232 lb||240–311 lb||319–431 lb|
|6 ft 4 in|
|156–197 lb||205–238 lb||246–320 lb||328–443 lb|
BMI is just one tool to understand body size, and it does not account for all of the ways that people’s bodies may differ. A person can talk with their doctor if they have questions about calculating or interpreting their BMI score.
BMI based on age
Age is not a factor in BMI for adults, but it is for children. This is because children typically grow larger with age. The
To calculate a child’s BMI, a person can use the
If a person has questions about their child’s BMI, they should consult a doctor.
What is the problem with BMI?
BMI is a very basic measurement. While it takes height and weight into consideration, it does not account for factors such as:
- waist or hip measurements
- the proportion or distribution of fat
- the proportion of muscle mass
These factors can affect health. For example, high performance athletes tend have a lot of muscle and little body fat. They can have a high BMI because they have more muscle mass, but this does not mean they weigh too much for their height.
Another limitation of BMI is that it does not distinguish between people of different racial or ethnic groups.
This inaccuracy may lead to a misdiagnosis or an incorrect assessment of risk factors between individuals.
BMI can offer a rough idea of whether or not a person is at a moderate weight, and it is useful for measuring trends in population studies.
However, it should not be the only measure an individual uses to assess whether their weight is ideal.
A person’s WHR compares their waist size with that of their hips. A high WHR is
For this reason, the WHR can be a useful tool for understanding potential health risks when considered alongside other assessments of health status.
To calculate their WHR, a person should measure around their waist at the narrowest part, usually just above the belly button. They can then divide this measurement by the width of their hip at its widest part.
For example, if a person’s waist is 28 inches (in) and their hips are 36 in, they will divide 28 by 36, giving a WHR of 0.77.
What does it mean?
Using WHR, a 2008 World Health Organization (WHO) report defines abdominal obesity as follows:
- In males: WHR over 0.9
- In females: WHR over 0.85
However, as with BMI, the WHR does have limitations. For example, this measure does not account for a person’s total body fat percentage or their muscle-to-fat ratio accurately.
Optimal WHR differs based on sex assigned at birth as well as race and ethnicity, according to the 2008 WHO report.
Plus, body size is not a direct measure of health. Anyone assessing body size needs to take a person’s overall health status into consideration.
To discover more evidence-based information and resources for weight management, visit our dedicated hub.
The waist-to-height ratio (WtHR) is another tool to assess body size. It compares a person’s waist circumference to their height.
According to 2015 research, higher WtHR has associations with worse cholesterol and blood pressure, even at a healthy BMI. For this reason, WtHR may be helpful when assessing health risk when used along with other measures of health.
To calculate WtHR, divide waist size by height. If the result is 0.5 or less, that is considered moderate.
Measurements that take waist size into account can help to provide insight into an individual’s health risks.
A 2014 study concluded that a WtHR of
For example, a 30 year old male with a 0.7 WHtR may be at risk of dying 7.2 years earlier than their typical lifespan. On average, a female of the same age and WHtR may be at risk of a 4.6 year reduction in lifespan.
While population-level studies are important, individual health is about more than waist size alone. A person should talk with their doctor if they have concerns about the health risks that may have links to a higher WtHR.
Learn how to measure the waist.
Body fat percentage is the weight of a person’s fat divided by their total weight. This includes fat found in many different parts of the body.
Body fat is necessary for the human body to function. An individual needs a type called essential fat to survive — it is critical for the development of the brain, bone marrow, nerves, and membranes.
Other types of fat protect the internal organs in the chest and abdomen, and the body can use it if necessary for energy.
Apart from the approximate guidelines for males and females, the ideal total fat percentage can depend on a person’s body type or activity level.
According to the American Council for Exercise, these are the expected body fat ranges for adults:
|Activity level||Male body type||Female body type|
|Obesity||25% or more||32% or more|
Typically, obesity has associations with a high proportion of body fat. Obesity and overweight can carry a
Calculating body fat percentage can provide useful information because it reflects body composition, unlike BMI, WHR, and WtHR.
How to measure body fat
The most common way of measuring body fat percentage is to use a skinfold measurement, which uses special calipers to pinch the skin.
A health professional will measure tissue on the thigh, abdomen, and chest for males or upper arm for females.
Other measures include
- hydrostatic body fat measuring, or underwater weighing
- air densitometry, which measures air displacement
- dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry
- bioelectrical impedance analysis
While none of these can give a completely accurate reading, the estimates can be close enough to offer a reasonable assessment.
An ideal body weight can mean different things to different people.
BMI, WHR, WtHR, and body-fat percentage are four ways of assessing weight status. Combining results from them may be the best way to get an accurate idea of whether a person’s body size is considered moderate.
However, body size alone does not offer a complete picture of a person’s health.
Anyone with concerns about their weight, waist size, or body composition should speak with a doctor about their individual health and how to manage any potential risk factors.