One of the most common questions we have received in our email inbox is "how much should I weigh?" In this article, we will explain 4 common methods to help you work this out.
To determine how much you should weigh (your ideal body weight) several factors should be considered, including age, muscle-fat ratio, height, sex, and bone density.
Some health professionals suggest that calculating your Body Mass Index (BMI) is the best way to decide whether your body weight is ideal. Others say that BMI is inaccurate as it does not account for muscle mass, and that waist-hip ratio is a better method.
It's worth remembering that one person's ideal body weight may be completely different to another's. If you compare yourself to family and friends you risk either aiming too high (if you are surrounded by obese or overweight people), or too low (if everyone around you works as a fashion model). Even comparing yourself with people outside your immediate surroundings may not work.
The levels of overweight and obesity in countries as the USA or UK, are much higher than in countries such as The Netherlands. So a Dutch person may aim for a lower ideal weight than an American if all he did was to compare himself to other people.
A recent study may have turned national guidelines on people’s ideal weight on its head. Researchers found that overweight people have a lower all-cause mortality risk compared to those of normal weight.
Method 1: Body mass index (BMI)
Your BMI is a measure of your weight in relation to your height. Health authorities worldwide mostly agree that:
- People with a BMI of less than 18.5 are underweight.
- A BMI of between 18.5 and 25 is ideal.
- Somebody with a BMI between 25 and 30 is classed as overweight.
- A person with a BMI over 30 is obese.
In some countries health authorities say the lower limit for BMI is 20, anything below it is underweight.
Calculate your BMI
To calculate your BMI use our BMI calculators or review our charts. We've given options for both metric and imperial measurements.
1) Metric BMI Calculator
2) Imperial BMI Calculator
Weight and height guide chart
The following weight and height chart uses the National Institute of Health's body mass index tables to determine how much your healthy weight should be for your 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|
What is the problem with BMI?
BMI is a very simple measurement which does not take into account the person's waist, chest or hip measurements. As an extreme example of this, an Olympic 100m sprint champion is likely to have a BMI higher than a couch potato of the same height. The couch potato may have a big belly, not much muscle and a lot of body fat on his hips, upper thighs, in his blood and on other parts of his body. While the athlete will have a smaller waist, much less body fat, and most likely enjoy better health. Using a pure BMI criteria, the couch potato may be considered healthier.
BMI does not take into account bone density (bone mass). A person with severe osteoporosis (very low bone density) may have a lower BMI than somebody else of the same height who is healthy, but the person with osteoporosis will have a larger waist, more body fat and weak bones.
Many experts criticize BMI as not generally useful in evaluation of health. It is at best a rough ballpark basic standard that may indicate population variations, but should not be used for individuals in health care.
Put simply: experts say that BMI underestimates the amount of body fat in overweight/obese people and overestimates it in lean or muscular people.
Other methods of finding your ideal weight
Should you not be satisfied with using BMI to work out how much you should weigh, there are other measurement options open to you.
On the next page of this article we look at how you can use Waist-Hip Ratio, Waist-Height Ratio and Body Fat Percentage to measure your ideal weight.