Calculating Your Healthy Weight
There is no ideal weight that suits everybody. Each person is different and your weight is determined by a number of different factors, such as age, height, family history, gender and your metabolism. Reaching and maintaining your healthy weight is important for your overall health and can help you prevent and control many diseases and conditions for the future.
There are several key measures that can help you assess if you are in your healthy weight range. Some common measures which are used include:
- Body Mass Index (BMI)
- Waist Circumference
- Body Fat Distribution
Use the three measures below to assess your weight. Ask your Advantage Pharmacist or Doctor for further advice on how to achieve your healthy weight.
Body Mass Index
Body mass index (BMI) is a tool used to estimate your total body fat. This helps to determine if your weight is within the normal range, or if you are underweight or overweight. It is calculated by dividing your weight, in kilograms, by your height in metres squared (m2).
To calculate the BMI for a person that weighs 65kg and is 164cm (1.64m) tall you would do the following calculation:
BMI = 65Kg / (1.64 x 1.64) = 24.2
Once you have measured your BMI, you can determine your healthy weight range.
If you have a BMI of:
- Under 18.5 - you are underweight, and should find out how to get into your healthy weight.
- Between 18.5 and 24.9 - you have a healthy weight for your height.
- Between 25 and 29.9 - you are overweight, and should find out how to achieve your healthy weight.
- Above 30 - you are obese. Speak to your Advantage Pharmacist for further advice about the steps you can take to reach your ideal weight.
BMI can be used as a general guide for most men and women; however it does have its limitations. BMI does not differentiate between body fat and muscle mass and can be misleading for certain individuals, such as children, athletes, people with physical disabilities and certain ethnic groups.
- Children - it is best to calculate a child’s weight by looking at age and gender percentile charts.
- Athletes - body builders and people who have a lot of muscle bulk will have a high BMI even if they are not overweight. It is best to measure waist circumference for athletes to get a better guide, rather than BMI.
- People with physical disabilities - or people who are unable to walk may have muscle wasting, thus resulting in a slightly lower BMI. This does not necessarily mean that they are underweight, and in these instances it is important to consult a Dietician who will provide more helpful advice.
- Certain ethnic groups - for some people, the BMI values need to be modified. For example, for Chinese, Indian and Malaysian people, a BMI greater than 23 is regarded as overweight and a BMI greater than 27.5 is regarded as obese.
Body Fat Distribution and Waist Circumference
There are some exceptions to calculating an accurate body weight using the BMI method; thus a person’s body fat distribution, and in particular their waist circumference, is often a better predictor of their health risk rather than their BMI.
There has been evidence to suggest that a high distribution of fat around a person’s abdomen (sometimes referred to as a ‘pot belly’), may be associated with an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease. On the other hand, fat predominately deposited around one’s hips and buttocks does not appear to have the same risk. Below shows the association between fat distribution and health risk:
- Slim: If you are slim with little fat around your abdomen (no pot belly), you have the least health risk for the conditions mentioned above. However, if you are slim with a pot belly, you have a moderate to high health risk.
- Overweight: If you are overweight with little fat around your abdomen (no pot belly), you have a moderate health risk for the conditions mentioned above. However, if you are overweight with a pot belly, you have a high health risk.
To determine how much fat you have around your abdomen, it is best to measure your waist circumference. To correctly measure your waist, stand up straight and place a measuring tape around your middle, just above your hipbones. Measure your waist just after you breathe out.
- Less than 94cm - least health risk
- 94cm or more - increased health risk
- 102 cm or more - substantially increased health risk
- For Women
- Less than 80cm - least health risk
- 80cm or more - increased health risk
- 88cm or more - substantially increased health risk
Being physically active, and eating a healthy and balanced diet (with less saturated fat), has been shown to decrease the risk of developing a higher amount of fat deposited around your abdomen. For further advice on maintaining a healthy weight, visit your local Advantage Pharmacy and speak to one of our helpful Advantage Pharmacists.