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Height Weight Approach to Determining Your Optimum Weight

measuring waist

There are several Height Weight approaches an individual can take to determining their optimum body weight. While the Body Mass Index (BMI) approach used to determine an individual's optimum weight is quite popular, the weakness in this approach is that it does not take into account the individual's lean muscle mass. Hence, individuals with a moderately high level of lean muscle mass will typically be classified as overweight, if not obese.

An alternative approach to the Hamwi, BMI and percentage body fat methods of determining an individual's ideal weight is to physically measure various parts of the human body and reference Height Weight charts.

The intent of this article is to discuss each of the body measurements and Height Weight techniques used to determine an individual's optimum weight.  

Waist Measurement

The waist measurement method has been used for years by medical professionals, and has evolved into a useful risk assessment tool for both men and women. Naturally, a slim waist does not guarantee that an individual is healthy (e.g. an individual could be malnourished or ill from a host of chronic diseases). However, as a measure of body fat, waist measurements can be indicative of an individual's risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes.

Healthy waist measurements for male and female adults according to the International Diabetes Federation's definition of metabolic syndrome are as follows:

  • Caucasian men: 37 inches (94 centimeters)

  • Caucasian women: 31.5 inches (80 centimeters)

However, optimal waist measurement values for other groups may vary. For example, Asians tend to have smaller waist measurements while Pacific Islanders tend to have larger waist measurements.

The recommended approach to this technique is to use the waist measurement as a general guideline to evaluate your risk of metabolic syndrome, and subsequently heart disease and diabetes. Data has shown that as an individual's waist measurement increases beyond these baselines, their risk of these diseases and others increase as well.

Waist-to-Hip Ratio

The waist-to-hip ratio compares the measurement of the narrowest part of the waist to the broadest section of the hips. To perform the measurement, simply measure your waist between the rib cage and the hip bone as viewed from the front. Thereafter, measure the broadest region of the hip/butt area as viewed from the side. Do not pull in your stomach while taking your measurements.

Divide the waist measurement by the hip measurement. The ratio should be no more than 0.9 for men and 0.8 for women. For example, a man with a 44-inch waist and 42-inch hips would have a waist/hip ratio of 1.05. This result is above the recommended level for a man and would be represent a higher risk level.

As a health indicator, several medical professionals consider the waist-to-hip ratio as a superior indicator to that of the waist measurement, especially for heart disease risk assessment. One study concluded that there was an increased level of risk associated with heart disease when this ratio exceeded 0.8 for women and 0.9 for men.

Body Height and Weight Charts

Height and Weight charts are typically used to indicate an individual's Body Mass Index (BMI). They represent a range of healthy weights, relative to height, for both men and women. It is quite common to see Height and Weight charts in the offices of medical professionals and dietitians. Many Height and Weight charts include additional items such as body frame, age, sex and more.

While Height and Weight charts may be useful tools, it's important to realize that they are general in nature and only provide a snapshot of an individual's overall health. A much more accurate approach to evaluating one's health is to perform a body fat percentage test. A body fat percentage test will truly provide an individual with an accurate measure of the amount of additional weight that their body is carrying. In addition, a percentage body fat test will nullify the effects of the amount of lean muscle mass an individual has (a shortcoming of the BMI approach), eliminate the need to determine an individuals frame size, and eliminate the sometimes-inaccurate body ratio tests that do not take an individuals structural frame into account.

Male & Female Height to Weight Chart

Female Height to Weight Ratio

Male Height to Weight Ratio

Height Low Target High Height Low Target High
4' 10" 100 115 131 5' 1" 123 134 145
4' 11" 101 117 134 5' 2" 125 137 148
5' 0" 103 120 137 5' 3" 127 139 151
5' 1" 105 122 140 5' 4" 129 142 155
5' 2" 108 125 144 5' 5" 131 145 159
5' 3" 111 128 148 5' 6" 133 148 163
5' 4" 114 133 152 5' 7" 135 151 167
5' 5" 117 136 156 5' 8" 137 154 171
5' 6" 120 140 160 5' 9" 139 157 175
5' 7" 123 143 164 5' 10" 141 160 179
5' 8" 126 146 167 5' 11" 144 164 183
5' 9" 129 150 170 6' 0"" 147 167 187
5' 10" 132 153 173 6' 1"" 150 171 192
5' 11" 135 156 176 6' 2" 153 175 197
6' 0" 138 159 179 6' 3" 157 179 202

Body Weight Measurements

Standard body weight scales provide a measure of total weight. However, they do not determine the lean muscle mass to body fat ratio of that weight. Weighing yourself on a standard body weight scale simply provides you with a number that you can compare to other individuals of the same height. Hence, this approach provides a cursory indication of an individual's overall health. For example, a 250-pound individual may weigh himself using this approach and, based on the average weight for individuals of the same height, be considered overweight. However, the individual may be an athlete or an avid weight lifter and only have 8% body fat. Therefore, Height Weight charts provide general information only and are not good predictors of an individual's overall level of health.

Using a Height Weight Approach to Monitor Progress

In many cases, it is fairly obvious when an individual is overweight or obese. In these instances, the previously mentioned approaches can be used to indicate the level of progress that is being made through the implementation of a weight loss and fitness routine. For instance, an individual that knows they are overweight can record their weight and body measurements prior to beginning their weight loss and fitness program, and record their values as their beginning baseline. Thereafter, the individual can periodically re-weigh and re-measure herself to determine whether she's making progress towards her weight loss goals.

In addition, an individual may remember what their weight was at an earlier age in life, and use that weight as their target weight for their weight loss goals. For example, a 35-year-old individual that currently weighs 155 pounds may remember that when they were 25 years of age, they weighed 119 pounds. Likewise, an individual may have clothes that they used to wear several years ago that they cannot wear today. For instance, an individual may have worn pants that were 30-waist by 34-length, and now they wear a 36-waist by 34-length pants. Each of these examples can be used as a reference to determine an individual's optimum weight.  

While there is value in all of the Height Weight approaches to determining an individual's optimum weight, the most reliable method is to monitor the percentage of body fat. By monitoring the percentage of body fat, all other variables are eliminated. You can then reference a body fat percentage chart to safely determine your optimum weight, and thereafter appropriately determine your specific weight loss goals.

scale with fruits and vegetables

The overall intent of the Weight Loss section of our website is to provide the most current and scientifically-proven approaches to healthy weight loss. More specifically, the Weight Loss section of our website includes articles related to the following topics:

  • Determining your optimum weight

  • Setting your weight loss goals

  • Defining a healthy and nutritional dietary routine

  • Specific exercise programs designed to meet the unique requirements of each individual

  • Mental approaches necessary to facilitate a healthy mindset and attitude towards taking an active interest in your health

  • ...and much more

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