With over half of the American population being overweight and one third obese, you may be wondering, "What is the right weight for my height?" so you can make sure that you are staying healthy. Studies show that most Americans don't even know that they are overweight or obese. Obese people generally felt just "overweight" and overweight people rated themselves as "normal." Being overweight or obese significantly increases your risk for heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. The easiest way to determine the right weight for your height is to calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI takes the relationship between your height and weight and gives you a number that assesses your risk for weight related diseases. The higher your BMI, the higher your risk for health problems related to weight.
Calculating Your BMI
Calculating your BMI is simple if you know your weight and height. Take your weight (in kilograms) and divide it by the squared value of your height (in meters). You should have a positive numerical value between 18 and 30. The National Institute on Health also has a BMI calculator on its website where you only have to enter you height and weight, and they perform the calculation for you.
Understanding Your BMI
Your result from the BMI calculation will place you within one of following four categories:
- Underweight: Below 18.5
- Normal: 18.5 to 24.9
- Overweight: 25to 29
- Obese: 30 or above
While the BMI is an effective way to determine the right weight for your height, there are individual factors to take into account when interpreting the results. If you are an athlete with a muscular build, having a BMI of 24 might not mean you are borderline overweight. Additionally, if you are an older adult who has lost muscle mass, it might be healthier for you to have a BMI closer to 18.5.
If you are considered obese or if you are overweight according to your BMI, it is recommended by the American Medical Association that you lose weight. Even if you remain in the overweight or obese category, just a small weight loss (between 5 and 10 percent of your current weight) will help to lower your risk of weight related diseases. This is especially true if you tend to gain weight around your waist. If you carry your weight around your waist, you are at even more risk for heart related health problems.
Knowing your BMI is the first step to achieving your weight goals. When you know the risk for obesity related diseases, you can use this information to keep doing what you're doing if your BMI is in the healthy range, or you can use it to get healthier if you're overweight or obese.