You think you’re fit, but the ideal weight charts you’ve seen say you’re fat. You’re not alone. A lot of fit people are fat if you believe the charts that many doctors use. And a lot of women are fat if you believe the body mass index (BMI) charts that for some reason judge men and women alike.
Doesn’t everyone realize that muscle weighs more than fat? That men are more muscular? That older people have more trouble burning calories than younger people?
How To Find Your Ideal Weight
The charts that list how much you should weigh if you’re a certain height are still flawed, but there’s been some progress. The traditional height-weight chart was formulated by Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. in 1942 based on its assessment that people above and below the chart’s ideal weight were at a greater risk of early death.
The Metropolitan chart had different weights for people with different body frames. However, what constituted a small, medium or large body frame was never defined. Today’s charts define body frame. Do you know how? Believe it or not, your wrist size determines your body frame.
Many doctors use a body mass index (BMI) chart to define ideal weight. The BMI, though, is complicated and flawed. Your BMI number is 703 times your weight in pounds divided by your height in inches squared. If your BMI is between 18.5 and 25, your weight is healthy. If it’s above 25, you’re overweight. If it’s below 18.5, you’re underweight.
The numbers translate to this chart. The green in the chart represents people who are at a healthy, or ideal, weight. Thus, a person who is 5-feet, 10-inches tall has an ideal weight of between 130 and roughly 175 pounds. And, yes, the ideal weight for men and women is the same. The chart also doesn’t take into account age and body frame. On the average, adults gain half a pound a year or 20 pounds over 40 years. Older people have to exercise considerably more and/or eat less to maintain their weight than younger people.
The BMI chart has other problems, according to Medical News Today. “BMI is a very simple measurement which does not take into account the person’s waist, chest or hip measurements,” the article says. “An Olympic 100 meters sprint champion may 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 other parts of his body. While the athlete will have a smaller waist, much less body fat, and most likely enjoy better health. According to a purely BMI criteria, the couch potato is healthier.”
In recent years, health professionals have tried to make a more precise measurement of body frame. Many have concluded that wrist size is accurate. The University of Maryland Medical Center’s “Calculating body frame size” report shows that men who are taller than 5 feet, 5 inches have a medium body frame when the circumference of their wrist is between 6.5 and 7.5 inches.
Determining a woman’s body frame is more difficult. A woman who is smaller than 5 feet, 2 inches has a medium body frame when the circumference of her wrist is between 5.5 and 5.75 inches. A woman who is between 5-2 and 5-5 has a medium body frame when her wrist size is 6 to 6.25 inches. Taller women have a medium body frame when their wrist size is 6.25 to 6.5 inches.
Medical News Today has a chart that lists the ideal weight of men and women based on their wrist size and body frame. Here are some of its figures for women::
- A 5-foot, 2-inch woman’s ideal weight is 108 to 121 pounds if she has a small frame, 118 to 132 pounds if she has a medium frame, and 128 to 143 pounds if she has a large frame.
- A 5-foot, 6-inch woman’s ideal weight is 120 to 133 pounds if she has a small frame, 130 to 144 pounds if she has a medium frame, and 140 to 159 pounds if she has a large frame.
- A 5-foot, 10-inch woman’s ideal weight is 132 to 145 pounds if she has a small frame, 142 to 156 pounds if she has a medium frame, and 152 to 173 pounds if she has a large frame.
Here are some of the chart’s figures for men:
- A 5-foot, 6-inch man’s ideal weight is 136 to 142 pounds if he has a small frame, 139 to 151 pounds if he has a medium frame, and 146 to 164 pounds if he has a large frame.
- A 5-foot, 10-inch man’s ideal weight is 144 to 154 pounds if he has a small frame, 151 to 163 pounds if he has a medium frame, and 158 to 180 pounds if he has a large frame.
- A 6-foot, 2-inch man’s ideal weight is 155 to 168 pounds if he has a small frame, 165 to 178 pounds if he has a medium frame, and 172 to 197 pounds if he has a large frame.
The measurement of ideal weight will probably never be precise enough to satisfy health and fitness experts, but there is no question that people should try as hard as possible to make sure that they have a healthy weight. People who are obese are at a higher risk of numerous health problems, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those problems include heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, breast cancer, colon cancer, and stroke.