What is a healthy weight?

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Jason B. Bergman, MD
Family Medicine
A “healthy weight” is an objective measurement.  But your doctor has many ways to measure your body weight and composition. Body mass index (BMI) considers your weight along with your height. It’s calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by height in meters squared.

BMI ranges are:
  • normal: 18.5-24.9
  • overweight: 25-29.9
  • obese: 30-39.9
  • morbidly obese: greater than 40
A BMI greater than 25 makes you more likely to have health problems, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes. However, being underweight has also been linked to an increased risk of illness and early death.  

Your doctor may also check your waist measurement. The location of body fat can affect your health.
Tests such as bioelectric impedance analysis (BIA) or DEXA may give your doctor an objective view of your weight. They consider your gender, age, weight, height and body composition.

After looking at the results of these measurements, you and your doctor can discuss your target healthy weight. Also ask your doctor about your “ideal weight.” This number may help you set a realistic goal when planning to lose pounds.
A healthy weight varies by individual and depends on height and type of build. A good way to determine if you are at a healthy weight is to use a BMI (body mass index) table. Locate your height and current weight on the chart, and the location where they intersect is your BMI. A normal BMI score is between 18.5 and 24.9. Less than 18.5 is considered underweight and 25 or more is overweight. A BMI score above 30 is considered obese.

A healthy weight is considered a body weight that doesn’t increase your risk of developing weight-related health problems or diseases. Rather than a single number, it’s a range of weight that is appropriate for your gender, height, and muscle mass, a weight at which you feel energetic and fit. A healthy weight is also a realistic weight, one that you can maintain naturally through consuming a nourishing diet and engaging in regular physical activity. As the U. S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) puts it, a healthy weight is not a diet; it’s a healthy lifestyle.

Wendy Batts
Fitness
A healthy weight is one that will keep you free from disease risk and one that you can realistically maintain with your lifestyle habits. Many of us get caught up in the magazine images and mistake those as healthy weights. While the models look great, remember that getting to those weights and staying there are very challenging and while anyone can achieve the camera- ready six pack, we need to assess how realistic the lifestyle demands are going to be to get us there and keep us there.

Check out the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) page at http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/index.html for more helpful information in assessing the status of your weight.
I would use the word happy instead of healthy. I would ask yourself this question. What weight would I be happy with? That is the weight for you. Everyone knows what weight they need to be, some outside person or program does not need to tell us how we need to look. I can tell myself.   I would much rather eat chocolate cake with a happy person than go rollerblading with an angry person. What do want?
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
There are more ways to determine this than win at bingo. You can measure your waist, which should be no greater than one-half the number of inches you are tall, or calculate your BMI on doctoroz.com, and keep it less than 25.

People have different ideas about what a "healthy" weight is. Some think that a model–thin physique is a healthy weight; others think that they can have some extra padding around the middle and still be at a healthy weight. That's why health experts have developed standards that define normal weight, overweight, and obesity.

For adults, a normal, or healthy, weight is defined as an appropriate weight in relation to height. This ratio of weight to height is known as the body mass index (BMI). People who are overweight might have too much body weight for their height. People who are obese almost always have a large amount of extra body fat in relation to their height. There are some exceptions. Big athletes with lots of muscle might have a BMI greater than 30 but would not be considered obese from the perspective of health risk.

For example, a woman who is 5'5" and weighs 132 pounds has a BMI of 22— healthy weight. If she weighs 162 pounds, she'd have a BMI of 2(overweight). If she weighs 186 pounds, she'd have a BMI of 31 (obese).

For children and teens, overweight is defined differently than it is for adults. Because children are still growing, and boys and girls develop at different rates, BMIs for children 2–20 years old are determined by comparing their weight and height against growth charts that take their age and gender into account. A child's "BMI-for-age" shows how his or her BMI compares with other girls or boys of the same age. A child or teen who is between the 85th and 95th percentile on the growth chart is considered at risk of overweight. A child or teen who is at the 95th percentile or above is considered overweight. Ask your family doctor, pediatrician, or health care provider about your child's BMI-for-age.

This answer is based on source information from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.