What is My Ideal Weight?

Ideal body weight for adults depends on your sex, genetic makeup (height, frame size and body shape), metabolic rate, activity level, body composition (percentage of muscle vs. percentage of fat), and state of health. In adults, weight should not vary with age. Health risks associated with being overweight or obese are the same, regardless of age. The best way to maintain your ideal weight and reduce your risk for health problems is just common sense. Live an active lifestyle and include nutritious meals that provide variety, balance and moderate portion sizes. Rather than counting pounds or using a height and weight chart, check out the assessment tools below to get a more accurate determination of your body composition.

Body Composition

Body composition is an important factor when evaluating health and risk factors for disease. Body weight can be very deceptive. A lean muscular person may be overweight according to height and weight tables but may be within the ideal range of body fat percentage. A thin person may be within ideal body weight range but could be overfat because of inadequate muscle mass. And there can be race and ethnicity variances as well.

As we age our body fat tends to increase, and there is a loss of muscle mass and water. However, with a lifetime commitment to proper diet and exercise we can counteract this tendency and stay healthy, fit and lean for a lifetime.

There are many ways to accurately assess body composition such as under water weighing, bioelectrical impedance, and skinfold thickness or anthropometric measurements. Since measuring body fat by these techniques is often inconvenient, expensive and not readily available, a more practical approach is the measurement of Body Mass Index (BMI) and Waist-to-Hip Ratio.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

BMI defines the amount of body fat you have in relationship to your weight and height and eliminates dependence on frame size. Body fat is an important indicator of your risk for disease. To estimate BMI weigh yourself on a beam balance scale if possible, in light clothing and without shoes. Record your weight to the nearest ½ pound. Height should be measured without shoes, standing erect, with your feet together and your heels against the wall. Place a block of wood or a clipboard flatly on the top of the head. Height should be measured to the nearest ¼ inch.

Calculate my BMI

Click here to quickly determine your BMI. The calculator will open in a new window.

A score of 20-25 is associated with the least risk of early death. All overweight and obese adults (age 18 years of age or older) with a BMI of 25 or greater are considered at risk for increased health problems. Individuals with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 are considered overweight, while those with a BMI of 30 or greater are considered obese. As a general rule of thumb, a BMI of 27 or more indicates increased risk of health problems and mortality. Click on this BMI link for more information.

Waist-to-Hip Ratio

Experts not only rely on the amount but the location of body fat to determine if a person is at greater risk for disease. Excess fat, out of proportion to total body fat, stored around the stomach and waist (apple shape) is a strong risk factor for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes type 2 and some types of cancer. Fat that is stored below the waist around the hips and thighs (pear shape) seems to be less risky. Abdominal fat storage may also be linked to genetics, excess saturated fat and caloric intake, and excess alcohol intake.

To measure your waist accurately, stand upright in a relaxed position, not pulling in your stomach. Using a plastic or steel measuring tape, place the tape measure around the smallest part of your waist, near your navel. Then measure around your hips, over the buttocks, where they are the largest.

Calculate My Waist to Hip Ratio

Click here to quickly determine your waist to hip ratio. The calculator will open in a new window.

Research in adults suggests that a ratio of 1.0 or greater for men or 0.8 or greater for women is an indicator of increased risk for obesity related diseases. People with large waists and high blood fats are three times more likely to have or develop diabetes.

Calculate My Daily Calorie Needs

The amount of energy (calories) your body needs every day is based on your sex, age, height, weight, activity level and desire for weight loss or gain. Health experts believe that in overweight individuals, even a small 10% weight loss can reduce the health risks for many chronic diseases. Remember that no matter what your weight goal may be, your first priority should be proper health not appearance. For purposes here, you will be considered an adult in good health. If you are more than 30 pounds overweight, use your desired weight in the calculations below. These calculations are meant for adults only.

Click here to quickly determine your daily calorie needs. The calculator will open in a new window.

This is an estimate of the calorie intake you need every day to maintain your current weight. If you want to lose weight, subtract 500 calories per day for each pound you want to lose every week. Add 500 calories per day for each pound you want to gain every week. Calorie levels of less than 1000 for women and 1200 for men are not recommended and are too low to meet nutritional requirements. Weight loss of more than 2 pounds per week is not recommended.

For a more balanced approach to a 1 pound per week weight loss, consider cutting calorie intake by 250 calories per day and exercising for the other 250 calories. This approach prevents a decrease in your metabolic rate and promotes increased lean muscle mass.

For a more thorough nutritional assessment or for help in implementing your own personal weight change program contact Linda.