What is my “optimal” weight? This is the first question you should ask before starting any new diet. Here, we address that key question by providing a solid scientific basis for setting your own personal weight goal.
You probably already realize that the term “ideal weight” is quite subjective.
Do you want to achieve a decidedly slender look? Or, is your “ideal body weight” that at which you perceive you feel healthiest (e.g., most energetic and focused)?
The simple fact is there is no “one size fits all” value when it comes to optimal body weight for any particular combination of height and gender. In fact, the weights that correspond to each of the aforementioned goals may differ considerably.
My personal choice (and that of many others) is to aim to achieve and maintain a bodyweight within that fairly narrow range at which persons of one’s own age and gender have the lowest mortality rate; that information is what is presented below.
Ideal Body Weight Chart For WOMEN*
* Notes: Data displayed is taken from statistics drawn from a population of “Adults” (Ages 25-59) with a Medium Frame. Height is measured wearing 1″ heels. Weight is measured wearing 3 lbs clothing. Source: “MetLife Tables of Desireable Weights“
Ideal Body Weight Chart For MEN*
* Notes: Data displayed is taken from statistics drawn from a population of “Adults” (Ages 25-59) with a Medium Frame. Height is measured wearing 1″ heels. Weight is measured wearing 5 lbs clothing. Source: “MetLife Tables of Desireable Weights“
Adjusting For Frame Size
“Frame size” is commonly used to adjust “average build” (aka “medium frame”) weight values presented in height-weight tables (e.g., above) for natural variation in body shape and skeletal muscle mass.
Most people fall into the “medium frame”category, so the “ideal body weights” provided in the table (above) will be applicable to the majority of users.
However, it is important to note that the referred values were derived by actual measurements of “frame size”. Thus, to properly interpret these data, frame size should be accounted for either by actual measurement or estimation.
If you determine your frame size to be “small” or “large”, simply add or subtract (as appropriate by frame size) 10% of the values tabled above to determine your own “ideal body weight”.
Interpreting The Weight-Height Charts
The weight range values provided in the “ideal body weight charts” presented above are reproduced directly from data originally prepared by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, as revised in 1983.
As with all such information, these tables must be used with common sense. They are based upon what is presumed to be a representative sample of the U.S. population as a whole as it existed throughout most of the 20th century. The data would NOT be applicable to special subsegments of the population such as body-builders, tri-athletes or professionals athletes for example.
In their original form, these charts were called (by MetLife) “desirable” weights, as they represented weight ranges (sorted by age and gender) within which the lowest mortality rates occurred according to their extensive data base of policy holders.
Over time, these data were reproduced in many forms and became popularly known as “ideal weights”, a term with a somewhat different and more ambiguous connotation, as noted above.
Are The Met-Life Tables Applicable Today?
Some health professionals today question the applicability of these data, derived in the last century, to the “modern” American of 2010, mainly on the basis that the values given do not correlate well with the average weights of today’s American adults.
In other words, the suggested “ideal body weight” values seem quite low in comparison with the actual weights of our current population.
My response to such critiques is that Americans are currently undergoing an obesity epidemic, and weights that are now commonly accepted as “normal” would have been much more rare or even considered obese in 1945 or 1960. Today’s “normal” is not necessarily “healthy”.
Just take a close look at film footage of masses of Americans going to work during WWII. Do those look like people from the same population as you might see at crowds today in Times Square or at a major sporting event?
The answer is obvious, and my take on this issue is that the MetLife tables remain by far the best available data base for determining “ideal” i.e., greatest life expectancy) weight ranges.
But your priorities may well be somewhat different, and one’s target “ideal” weight is, in the final analysis, a personal choice that can be made by you alone (preferably in consultation with your physician).
Even so, I believe that no matter what your priority, the information provided in the simple chart presented above can serve as a useful guide to everyone; whatever your final decision, at least it will be more informed if you are aware of the data in these charts and understand how to properly interpret them.
Measure Your Weight: Don’t Guess
It is probably unproductive to obsess about daily weight fluctuations on a daily basis; your water balance and the amount of unprocessed food in your digestive system at any given moment can easily vary your weight by 3-5 lbs.
Instead, weigh your self once a week at the same time of day and wearing the same clothing. Less “random error” will be obtained by weighing first thing in the morning, before eating or drinking anything.
Also, be sure you have a reliable measuring device; accurate bathroom scales can now be had at quite reasonable prices, so there is no excuse for sticking with your 20-year old scale of dubious accuracy.