Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
May 28, 2024 ·  7 min read

What’s Your Ideal Weight According To Your Height?

The concept of ideal weight according to one’s height is a touchy subject that has sparked controversy within the realm of health and wellness. Much of this debate revolves around the Body Mass Index (BMI), a tool commonly used to determine if an individual’s weight falls within a healthy range for their height. While some view BMI as a valuable measure, others dismiss it as irrelevant or inaccurate. It is crucial to recognize that BMI is just one of many factors to consider when evaluating health and should not be used in isolation to gauge overall well-being.

Ideal Weight vs. Desired Weight

BMI calculation, apple and measurment tape
Credit: Shutterstock

It is essential to distinguish between ideal weight and desired weight. While ideal weight is often associated with a medically recommended weight range for an individual’s height, desired weight is more subjective and may be influenced by personal aesthetics or societal norms. Striking a balance between these two notions can contribute to a healthier body image and overall well-being.

Again, ideal weight has nothing to do with health but with societal as well as self-imposed standards of beauty. Ideal weight is entirely medical and about your health, not aesthetics. Different tools have been developed to help determine weight-to-height ratios or body fat percentages that are most likely associated with metabolic stability, aka healthy organs. One of those tools is known as the Body Mass Index, or BMI.

Read More: Is Poor Liver Function Making You Gain Weight?

Understanding BMI

Mechanical weight scale, body mass control concept : Bathroom scale, personal accurate body fat tester / skin fold caliper measurement tool for stomach / belly and measuring tape on blue background
Credit: Shutterstock

BMI is a widely used formula that estimates an individual’s body fat based on their height and weight. The calculation involves dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by their height in meters squared. The resulting number is then categorized into different BMI ranges, such as underweight, normal weight, overweight, and obese. (1)

A BMI of less than 18.5 is considered underweight and is associated with a potential for certain health problems. A score of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal, with a low chance of developing chronic health conditions. 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight, and 30 and up is considered obese. These two categories are associated with an increasingly high risk of metabolic instability and health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Various reputable sources provide general guidelines for ideal weight ranges based on height. These recommendations serve as a helpful starting point for individuals to assess their weight in relation to their height and identify potential health risks associated with being underweight or overweight. It is important to state that these ranges may not suit every individual. Talk to your doctor about your health and health risks and what the best action plan is for you.

Why BMI Isn’t Right for Everyone/What BMI Doesn’t Take into Consideration

Black woman, runner and start line, race and competition, exercise challenge or fitness at stadium arena. Portrait, focus and sports athlete ready on running track, marathon training and cardio power
Source: Shutterstock

BMI does have limitations and may not be accurate for certain individuals, such as athletes, bodybuilders, or those with significant muscle mass. It also fails to account for differences in body composition, such as muscle versus fat. This means that BMI may not be a great tool to use on athletes, body builders, and also people with specific medical conditions. It is essential to recognize these limitations and consider other factors when evaluating one’s overall health. It is also important to remember, however, that most of us are not athletes or professional body builders. Even for many of us who regularly work out and play sports recreationally, BMI is still a useful tool. (2)

All of that being said, it is important to remember that just because you have a low body fat percentage and a high muscle mass doesn’t necessarily mean you are 100% healthy. Not having enough body fat, for both men and women, is associated with a whole host of health problems. Doing anything to an extreme, including sports, exercising, and bodybuilding, does not mean it is even better for your body. The reverse is actually true: You are likely tipping the edge of doing more harm than good.

Read More: Weight Loss Pyramid: What’s Most Important For Losing Weight

The BMI and Obesity vs Health Controversy

Group of young female athletes laughing and having fun in fitness clothing, celebrating their love for sport and exercise. Happy young sportswomen demonstrating their commitment to a healthy lifestyle
Source: Shutterstock

Some experts have done studies, evaluated past research, and raised a flag that they do not believe Body Mass Index (BMI) should be continuously used as a measure of body fat content and overall health. Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania emphasize that BMI does not consider factors such as muscle mass, bone density, body composition, and variations in racial and sex differences. The article highlights that while BMI categorizes individuals as underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese, it fails to provide a comprehensive assessment of an individual’s health status. Furthermore, the piece delves into the “obesity-mortality paradox,” a controversial phenomenon where obesity may paradoxically offer some protection against certain causes of death, despite the known health risks associated with being overweight or obese. (3)

Moreover, some experts (medical doctors, scientists, and researchers) have spoken out about the criticisms surrounding the BMI calculation, particularly how it exaggerates thinness in short individuals and fatness in taller individuals. The insights provided by experts, such as Professor Nick Trefethen from Oxford University’s Mathematical Institute, point to the limitations of the BMI formula developed in the 1830s. Trefethen suggests that a more accurate assessment may involve adjusting the BMI calculation to account for differences in height. Additionally, the article explores alternative measures beyond BMI, such as waist-to-height ratio and waist circumference, as superior indicators of health risks, particularly in relation to conditions like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. These findings challenge the conventional use of BMI as the primary measure of one’s weight status and overall health.

Measuring BMI for Children

Friendship, kids and portrait of friends in a park playing together outdoor in nature. Happiness, diversity and children with a smile standing, embracing and bonding in a outside garden or playground
Source: Shutterstock

When it comes to children, determining ideal weight based solely on BMI can be challenging. Factors such as growth spurts and changes in body composition during puberty should be taken into consideration. Thus, pediatricians utilize specialized growth charts and tools to assess children’s physical development.

Other Options

Mechanical weight scale, body mass control concept : Bathroom scale, personal accurate body fat tester / skin fold caliper measurement tool for stomach / belly and measuring tape on blue background
Source: Shutterstock

In addition to BMI, alternative measures such as waist-to-hip ratio, waist-to-height ratio, and body fat percentage can provide valuable insights into an individual’s health status. Understanding how to calculate and interpret these metrics can offer a more holistic view of one’s overall well-being. Waist-to-hip and waist-to-height ratios can be taken easily at home. It is important to note that for women, waist circumference can vary greatly based on hip structure, not just fat. There are several ways to measure body fat percentage, however, none of them are perfectly accurate. If you are concerned about the amount of fat (or lack thereof) on your body, speak with your doctor about some of these tests and measurements.

What is a Healthy Body?

Source: Shutterstock

Both women and men have long been under pressure to have a “perfect” body. For women, this has been traditionally viewed as a body that is slim and moderately toned, with various proportions from chest to waist to hips, etc. For men, this has been traditionally seen as lean and muscular. It is important to note that these “ideal” body types are not only not achievable for everyone, but they are also not healthy for many, if not most, people. Both men and women need a certain amount of body fat in order to be metabolically stable, aka healthy.

What healthy vs. unhealthy looks like has been heavily skewed by popular culture and media. We look at lean, muscular men and women, as well as skinny/slim women, as being healthy. Those who have some body fat and perhaps less muscle, we think are less healthy. Health, however, is determined by what is going on inside the body, not always outward appearance. In fact, often super lean, toned, or even “ripped” people are not as healthy, or have as much longevity, as they think.

Remember, the secret to health and maintaining a healthy weight for your body lies in your lifestyle. Eat a healthy diet of mostly plants and as little processed, high sugar, fat, and salt foods as possible. Move your body in a variety of ways – cardiovascular activity, strength building activities, and those that focus on improving your mobility. Don’t smoke, don’t drink too much alcohol, if any at all. Focus on drinking water and getting a good night’s sleep as often as possible. Most importantly, don’t stress. Do your best to manage stress, enjoy life, spend time with family and friends, find hobbies that are good for you and bring you joy. Finally, if you need help with any of that, ask for it. Seek it out.

The Bottom Line

Source: Shutterstock

In conclusion, the concept of ideal weight according to height encompasses a multifaceted discussion that extends beyond traditional BMI calculations. While BMI serves as a starting point for many individuals, it should not be the sole determinant of health. By considering a range of factors, including body composition, muscle mass, and overall lifestyle, individuals can gain a more comprehensive understanding of their ideal weight in relation to their height, ultimately leading to a healthier and more informed approach to personal well-being.

Read More: 6 Egg-Cellent Breakfast Ideas to Help Smash Weight Loss Goals

Sources

  1. How much should I weigh for my height and age?Medical News Today. Yvette Brazier. November 30, 2023.
  2. Why Use BMI?Harvard
  3. Why BMI is inaccurate and misleading.” Medical News Today. Christian Nordqvist. January 20, 2022