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How To Determine Your Ideal Body Weight

ideal body weight

Do you know the best way to determine your ideal body weight? Many people think you should use the body mass index (BMI) chart, which is widely referred to in nutrition and weight research studies and found in some doctors’ offices. But there's a better way.


BMI is not the answer
But it turns out that the BMI isn’t really that helpful. For one thing, it does not factor in a person’s muscle mass. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “BMI can be used to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems but it is not diagnostic of the body fatness or health of an individual.”

Basically, to get your BMI value, your weight in pounds is divided by your height in inches squared, then multiplied by 703. For example: if you are 5 feet, 1 inch tall (61”) and weigh 125 pounds, the calculation would be: 125 divided by 3721 (61x61) multiplied by 703 = 23.6.

According to the BMI scale:

  • Underweight =
  • Normal weight = 18.5 to 24.9
  • Overweight = 25 to 29.9
  • Obesity = 30 or greater

Waist-to-hip ratio
Instead of the BMI, some people use the waist-to-hip ratio. However, it, too, is mainly a tool to help you determine overall health risk. One of its disadvantages is that it does not accurately measure an individual’s muscle-to-fat ratio (total body fat percentage).

To get your waist-to-hip ratio value, measure your waist and your hips and enter the figures into a calculator. When you get your result, check it on the waist-to-hip ratio chart. Generally, the closer your value is to 1.0, the greater your risk for health problems associated with obesity.

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Waist-to-height ratio
This formula may be the most accurate way to determine your ideal body weight. It was presented at the 19th Congress on Obesity in France in 2012 by Dr. Margaret Ashwell, ex-science director of the British Nutrition Foundation.

According to Ashwell, “Keep your waist circumference to less than half your height” if you want to achieve and/or maintain an ideal body weight. For example:

  • If you are a 5 foot, 6 inch (66 inches) tall female, your waist should be no greater than 33 inches
  • If you are a 6 foot, 2 inch (74 inches) tall male, your waist should not exceed 37 inches

Now it’s time for you to do the math and determine where you are in terms of your ideal body weight.

Note: To accurately measure you waist, place the tape measure midway between your lower rib and the pelvic bone at your hip. The tape should be snug but not pulled tight.

The one thing researchers can’t put into a formula, however, is what you as an individual believe your ideal body weight is, how good you feel in your own skin, and the weight at which you feel your healthiest. But the waist-to-height ratio is a helpful tool.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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