The ideal average weight for women is the one that is healthy for them. It varies amongst women as per their height. As per the CDC report, the average weight of American women in 2015-2016 was 77.4 kg (170.6 lb) in 2015–2016, up from 74.3 kg (163.8 lb) in 1999–2000.
To find out if any person is underweight, normal-weight, overweight, or obese, their Body Mass Index (BMI) is calculated from weight and height. The BMI lets you know if your weight is normal for your height. Here is how you can find out your BMI:
BMI = weight in kg divided by height in meter, then again divide the result by height in meter.
For example, if your height is 166 cm (1.6 m) and weight is 67 kg, your BMI is calculated as:
- 67 ÷ 1.66 = 40.36 and then, 40.36 ÷ 1.66 = 24.31. This 24.31 is your BMI.
Alternatively, you can multiply your weight in pounds by 703, divide by your height in inches, then divide again by your height in inches.
The normal BMI range is 18.5 – 24.9.
Given below is the chart showing ideal (healthy) weight by age for a given height.
BMI to Appropriate Weight and Height Chart Courtesy of the National Institutes of Health
How is BMI interpreted for adults?
BMI can be a screening tool for deciding the ideal weight for you and letting you know if your weight is on the higher side. But it does not tell us about your total body fat content or health status. This is because weight is a measure of water content + fat content + bone + muscle mass. Out of these things, the muscle mass varies the most amongst individuals. If you are someone who does muscle-strengthening exercises daily, you will have more muscle weight than others.
Being overweight and obese puts you at risk for many health disorders such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), heart diseases, stroke, and cancer amongst many others. To determine if a particular BMI exposes you to health risks, the healthcare provider will assess other factors such as
- your waist-circumference,
- waist-hip ratio,
- skinfold thickness,
- physical activity, and
- family history.
Other methods to measure body fatness include
- skinfold thickness measurements,
- bioelectrical impedance, and
- dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA).
However, these methods are not always easily available, and they are either costly or need expertise to conduct them.
What is the importance of the waist-hip ratio?
Your waist-to-hip ratio is another good parameter to check if you have a healthy weight or not. To calculate this ratio, you should first measure your waist circumference at its smallest part and your hip circumference at its widest part.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a waist-to-hip ratio in women should be:
- women should not have a waist-to-hip ratio greater than 0.85.
- A waist-to-hip ratio over 1.0 puts women more likely to get diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and breast cancer.
To achieve a healthy weight or a healthy BMI and normal waist-hip ratio, it is vital to adopt healthy lifestyle choices such as a healthy dietary pattern and regular moderate- or high-intensity exercises (at least 30 minutes/day for most days of the week). A visit to a doctor or dietician will help you decide the best, feasible options for you.
The United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Mean Body Weight, Height, Waist Circumference, and Body Mass Index Among Adults: United States, 1999–2000 Through 2015–2016. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr122-508.pdf
Abnormal waist circumference, but not BMI, associated with mortality risk in CAD. Available at: https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/790907
Normal Weight Ranges: Body Mass Index (BMI). Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/diet-physical-activity/body-weight-and-cancer-risk/adult-bmi.html
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