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.
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.
METHOD 2: WAIST-HIP RATIO (WHR)
A waist-hip measurement is the ratio of the circumference of your waist to that of your hips. You measure the smallest circumference of your waist, usually just above your belly button, and divide that total by the circumference of your hip at its widest part.
If a woman’s waist is 28 inches and her hips are 36 inches, her WHR is 28 divided by 36 = 0.77. Below is a breakdown of WHR linked to risk of cardiovascular health problems.
- Less than 0.9 – low risk of cardiovascular health problems
- 0.9 to 0.99 – moderate risk of cardiovascular health problems
- 1 or over – high risk of cardiovascular problems
- Less than 0.8 – low risk of cardiovascular health problems
- 0.8 to 0.89 – moderate risk of cardiovascular health problems
- 0.9 or over – high risk of cardiovascular problems
The WHR of a person is commonly said to be a much better indicator of whether their body weight is ideal and what their risks of developing serious health conditions are, compared to BMI. Various studies have shown that people with apple-shaped bodies – who have larger WHRs – have higher health risks compared to people with pear-shaped bodies – who have lower WHRs. An apple-shaped person will have more fat accumulating on the waist, while a pear-shaped person has the fat accumulating on the hips.
A woman with a WHR of less than 0.8 is generally healthier and more fertile than females with higher WHRs. They are less likely to develop diabetes, most cancers, or cardiovascular disorders. Similarly, men with a WHR no more than 9 are generally healthier and more fertile than men with higher WHRs, and less likely to develop serious conditions or diseases.
Studies indicate that if WHR were to replace BMI as a predictor of heart attack worldwide, figures would include many more people.
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM WITH WHR?
WHR does not accurately measure a person’s total body fat percentage, or their muscle-to-fat ratio. However, it is a better predictor of ideal weight and health risks than BMI.
METHOD 3: WAIST-TO-HEIGHT RATIO
In a study in 2012, Dr Margaret Ashwell, who used to be science director of the British Nutrition Foundation, and team found that waist-to-height ratio was better at predicting future heart disease and diabetes risk than BMI.
Dr. Ashwell presented her team’s findings at the 19th Congress on Obesity in Lyon, France, on 12th May, 2012.
Dr. Ashwell said, in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, a leading UK newspaper:
“Keeping your waist circumference to less than half your height can help increase life expectancy for every person in the world.”
- A man 6ft (72 inches, 183 cm) tall, should keep his waist measurement below 36 inches (91 cm)
- A woman 5ft 4 inches, i.e. 64 inches (163 cm) tall, should keep her waist measurement below 32 inches (81 cm)
Dr. Ashwell suggests waist-to-height ratio (WHtR) should be used as a screening tool.
Her team found that after analyzing several studies involving approximately 300,000 people, WHtR was better at predicting heart attacks, stroked, diabetes, and hypertension risk compared to BMI.
Ashwell explained that BMI does not take into account fat distribution around the body. The accumulation of abdominal fat (visceral fat) may be harmful for the heart, kidneys and liver, while fat build-up around the hips and bottom is less hazardous to health.
The researchers added that WHtR is much simpler for people to work out:
“Keep your waist circumference to less than half your height”
HOW DO YOU MEASURE YOUR WAIST?
The World Health Organization suggests that you measure your waist mid-way between the lower rip and the iliac crest (the top of the pelvic bone at the hip) (“Waist To Height Ratio Better Than BMI”. Catharine Paddock PhD. Medical News Today. 13 May 2012)
METHOD 4: BODY FAT PERCENTAGE
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