How much should I weigh for my height and age?

The evaluation of the ideal body weight is a scientific process which involves taking into account a variety of factors such as the gender, height, age, bone density, and muscle-fat ratio, before one can commence it.

Some professionals suggest the use of the BMI method, wherein the correct body weight is determined by calculating the Body Mass Index. Others believe that the WHR (waist-hip ratio) method is more advanced because unlike BMI, it also considers muscle mass measures when determining the right body weight.

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It may also be noted that the correct weight of a person may be completely different from some other person. One should also avoid comparisons with family members or friends, because if they are skinny models or obese, then you may aim too low or too high.

One also cannot make assessments according to the general population, because some countries may have more number of obese people than others. For example, the US has a higher percentage of obesity, while obese people are fewer in number in France. Thus, Americans may aim for a higher ideal body weight, while the French will have a much lower standard of correct body weight.

The different methods of ideal body weight calculation, as per the height and age, are discussed below.

The Body Mass Index/BMI method

The BMI method uses the weight and height of a person to calculate the BMI, which then helps calculate the ideal body weight.

  • BMI in Imperial Units
    • Measure the weight in pounds and multiply it by 703-(A)
    • Measure the height in inches. Calculate its square-(B)
    • Divide (A) by (B) to get the BMI.
    • For example, if the weight is 150 pounds and the height is 67 inches, then the BMI is (150×703)/(67×67) = 105450/4489 = 23.49.
    • BMI in Metric Units
      • Measure the weight in kilograms-(A)
      • Measure the height in meters. Calculate its square-(B)
      • Divide (A) by (B) to get the BMI.
      • For example, if the weight is 80 kilograms and the height is 1.80 meters, then the BMI is (80)/(1.80×1.80) = 80/3.24 = 24.69.

A majority of health experts all over the world are of the opinion that a BMI below 18.5 is lower than ideal weight; a BMI between 18.5 and 25 is ideal; a BMI between 25 and 30 is overweight; and a BMI above 30 is obesity. It is also important to note that health care providers in some countries consider people with a BMI of under 20 to be underweight.

Presented below is a table of the average ideal weight of people as per their height, age, and gender, using the BMI method.

For Girls

Age in years Average weight in pounds Average height in inches
Newborn 7.16
1 21.76 28 to 29
2 28.4 30
3 30.8 33
4 35.2 37
5 39.6 40
6 46.2 41
7 50.6 43
8 57.2 45
9 63.8 47
10 70.4 51
11 79.2 52
12 to 13 95 to 105 60 to 63
14 to 15 105 to 115 63 to 64
16 to 17 115 to 120 64
18 to 20 125 to 130 64

 

For Boys

Age in years Average weight in pounds Average height in inches
Newborn 7.16
1 22 28 to 29
2 28.4 31
3 33 33
4 35 -37 37
5 41.8 40
6 46.2 42
7 50.6 44
8 57.2 45
9 61.6 49
10 70.4 51
11 77 52
12 to 13 85 to 100 58 to 62
14 to 15 105 to 125 63 to 66
16 to 17 130 to 150 67 to 70
18 to 20 150 to 160 68 to 70

 

For Women (Average Age between 22 to 60 years)

Height in feet and inches Weight for women with Large frame Weight for women with medium frame Weight for women with small frame
4’10” 131 115 100
4’11” 134 117 101
5’0″ 137 120 103
5’1″ 140 122 105
5’2″ 144 125 108
5’3″ 148 128 111
5’4″ 152 133 114
5’5″ 156 136 117
5’6″ 160 140 120
5’7″ 164 143 123
5’8″ 167 146 126
5’9″ 170 150 129
5’10” 173 153  132
5’11” 176 156  135
6’0″ 179 159 138

 

For Men (Average Age between 22 to 60 years)

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Height in feet and inches Weight for men with large frame Weight for men with medium frame Weight for men with small frame
5’1″ 145 134 123
5’2″ 148 137 125
5’3″ 151 139 127
5’4″ 155 142 129
5’5″ 159 145 131
5’6″ 163 148 133
5’7″ 167 151 135
5’8″ 171 154 137
5’9″ 175 157 139
5’10” 179 160 141
5’11” 183 164 144
6’0″ 187 167 147
6’1″ 192 171 150
6’2″ 197 175 153
6’3″ 202 179 157

 

The Shortcomings of the BMI method

  • The BMI method does not use the bone density or bone mass to calculate the correct weight of a person as per the height and age.
    • Osteoporosis is a disease marked by low bone density. A person with severe osteoporosis will thus have a lower BMI as compared to a healthy person of same age, height, and gender. The former may however have higher body fat, weaker bones, and a larger waist.
    • The BMI method also does not take into account the measurements of the waist, hip, and chest.
      • It is possible for an athlete to have a higher BMI than one living a sedentary life. This in turn means that the athlete is less healthy than the latter. However in reality, the athlete will typically have a smaller waist, low body fat, and be healthier as compared to the latter who may have reduced muscle mass, a big belly, and high body fat in the blood, hips, and other parts of the body.
      • One can thus conclude that the BMI method overestimates the amount of body fat in lean or muscular people, while underestimating it in overweight and obese persons.

The Waist-Hip Ratio/WHR method

The Waist-Hip Ratio method determines the ideal weight by calculating the ratio of the circumference of the waist to that of the hips. The lowest waist measurement, usually occurring just above the belly button, is divided by the highest waist measurement, usually occurring at the hips.

  • For example, a woman with a belly measurement of 30 inches and a hip measurement of 36 inches, will have a WHR of 30/36 = 0.83

The WHR method is a better way to find the correct body weight as per the age and height rather than the BMI method. It is also a better method to determine any underlying risk to health ailments.

  • Studies indicate that people with a pear-shaped body have a low WHR and decreased risk to health issues as compared to people with an apple shaped body and a high WHR. The latter usually feature excess fat on the belly while the former have excess fat in the hip region.
  • Women with 0.8 or lower WHR and men with 0.9 or lower WHR are typically regarded as more fertile and healthier than their respective counterparts with a higher WHR. The former are also less vulnerable to developing health conditions like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and cancer, etc.

As opposed to the BMI method, the WHR method is a better measurement of the correct body weight as per the height and age.

  • WHR method is also more efficient at predicting health risks like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and stroke. Abdominal fat accumulation can adversely affect the heart, liver, and kidneys, while fat buildup around the hips and buttocks is less damaging. As the BMI method does not measure fat distribution across the belly or hips, it cannot predict future ill-health.
  • WHR is also easier to follow and observe, as people only need to work towards maintaining a waist circumference-measurement that is less than half the measure of their height.

The only flaw of WHR method in ascertaining the ideal weight is that it does not offer an accurate measurement of the total body fat percentage or the muscle to fat ratio.

Body Fat Percentage

Body fat percentage is determined by:

  • Measure the weight of fat-(A)
  • Measure the total weight-(B)
  • Divide (A) by (B)
  • The result is the measurement of the total body fat percentage, which in turn is the sum of essential fat and storage fat.

Storage fat is made up of adipose tissue fat deposits. Some part of it protects the organs present in the chest and abdominal cavity. Essential fat is required for survival; women require a larger percentage of it than men. The ideal essential fat percentage falls between 10 to 13 percent in females and 2 to 5 percent in males.

Ideal Total Fat

  Athletes Non-athletes, but fit people People with acceptable weight Overweight individuals Obese individuals
Men 6 to 13 percent 14 to 17 percent 18 to 25 percent 26 to 37 percent 38 percent or more
Women 14 to 20 percent 21 to 24 percent 25 to 31 percent 32 to 41 percent 42 percent or more

 

As per the table above, it can be inferred that men with over 25 percent body fat and women with over 31 percent body fat are overweight or obese.

Most health experts believe that the body fat percentage method is the best way to find the fitness level of an individual, mainly because only this method calculates the body’s correct composition. Also, this method never comes to the incorrect conclusion that a person living a sedentary lifestyle can be healthier than a professional athlete.

A person’s body fat percentage can be measured in varied ways. But not a single method provides a truly accurate figure. However, experts consider the approximate figures to be fairly accurate.

How to calculate body fat percentage

1. Using a fat caliper, pinch the body fat to the right side of the body, with a fat caliper and do the reading.

 

2. Check the reading in the body fat percentage measurement chart as given below.

Body Fat Percentage Measurement Chart

Using the body fat percentage calculator

You can also check your body fat percentage according to your weight and age with this method, with the aid of a fat caliper and an online calculator.
1. Use the fat caliper and pinch the fat on 4 areas of the body – abdomen (right next to the navel), suprailiac (area above the hip), arm and thigh. once you get the reading for every area, pull the lever to the right side.
2. Take your percentage in millimeters
3. Enter the four measurements into a liner calculator online.
4. Enter your age, weight
5. Use the appropriate calculator depending on your gender.

Some additional tips for calculating body fat percentag with a fat caliper
1. Measure once  a wek on the same day.
2. Measure on the right side of the body.
3.  Measure 2 and 3 times till you get proper reading.

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